Britain's Top 100 Entrepreneurs 2014: Top 10

No stranger to the Number 1 spot back in the day, this time Victoria Beckham heads the charts as a businesswoman not a Spice Girl.

by Philip Beresford
Last Updated: 16 Jul 2015

1. Victoria Beckham - Victoria Beckham

Number 36 Dover Street, Mayfair is home to popstar-turned-fashion entrepreneur Victoria Beckham's first shop. Beckham is living proof that celebrity may be the most marketable commodity of all. The 6,000sq ft boutique is the latest triumph for the designer and former Spice Girl - who also happens to be married to David, undercrackers model extraordinaire and the world's most famous ex-footballer.

The grand opening followed her topping a poll to find the greatest 'style icon' at London Fashion Week in September and the rapturous reception given to her SS15 collection in New York. Now with a looser style, the range includes separates and luxury handbags selling at up to £18,000 each.

But it's her finely tuned business acumen that wins her the top spot in MT's 2014 ranking of Britain's top 100 entrepreneurs. It is 20 years since Victoria, born into a comfortably-off Essex family, started her pop career with a bang as a chart-topping Spice Girl. After a brief solo career, she launched her eponymous label in 2008. Always an adept exploiter of her own celeb value, by 2011 she was a fixture at New York Fashion Week and had introduced a lower-priced Victoria, Victoria Beckham label for the more impecunious fan. In the same year she won designer brand of the year at the British Fashion Awards.

Two years ago her HQ occupied one floor in the Battersea office where she is based. Today, her 100-strong team operates over several floors. In all, the Victoria Beckham business has achieved a sales growth of 2,900% and employment growth of 3,233% over the past five years.

As she herself puts it: 'First time around I felt famous, but now I feel successful.' With that sort of performance few would disagree.

2. Amit and Meeta Patel - Auden Mckenzie

Brother and sister team Amit and Meeta Patel own and run Ruislip-based Auden Mckenzie (Pharma Division). The firm specialises in injectable products such as Synastone (methadone), which is licensed for the treatment of heroin addiction and as an alternative to morphine for pain relief. It's a lucrative market - profits hit £28.9m on £52.4m of sales in 2012-13.

The fast-growing west London operation was founded in 2001, holds more than 120 pharmaceutical product licences and sells its wares in 30 countries. It was the Patels' father who identified a niche market for generic versions of such highly specialised medicines and, armed with £150,000 seed capital, the company was launched, staffed only by the three family members. 'I did not need to go to business school, because I learned everything from watching my father,' Amit Patel has said. The business now employs over 79 people and supplies hospitals, pharmacies and wholesalers.

3. Mahmud Kamani -

Kamani boosted exports with local language sites

The online fashion operation based in Manchester's trendy Northern Quarter floated on the stock market in March valued at a cool £560m. Mahmud Kamani co-founded in 2006. Although shares in the retailer - whose wares include fake fur gilets at £30 a pop - have had a roller-coaster ride since, the business is growing fast, with sales and employment up 746% and 369% respectively over the past five years. New local-language websites in Europe are helping exports and, in a £10m investment, the firm's warehouse capacity in Burnley will more than quadruple, with staff in the new 820,000sq ft facility getting a 12% pay rise to boot.

4. Julian Dunkerton - SuperGroup

Dunkerton got the inspiration for SuperDry after travelling the world

Cheltenham-based Julian Dunkerton floated SuperGroup, the business behind the hugely successful Superdry clothing label, on the stock market in 2010. Its roots date back to when 19-year-old exam failure Dunkerton dropped out to travel the world. Returning to his home town, he saw a gap in the fashion market and decided to set up on his own, raising capital by working in a factory and as a fruit picker. Adding £2,000 borrowed from family, in 1985 he rented a shop due for demolition, and made £16,000 in his first year. After a wobble in 2012 when profits were overstated by £10m, SuperGroup is back on track with forecast profits of £70m this year. Dunkerton has just stepped down as chief exec to concentrate on being product and brand director. Celebrity fans include David Beckham and Ed Sheeran.

5. Roy MacGregor - Global Energy

After the family supermarket operation he was working for was sold in 1985, highlander Roy MacGregor started his own offshore maintenance business, MacGregor Energy Services, which he went on to sell in 1997 for £20m. He began again in 2005 with Global Energy (Holdings), making, inspecting and repairing oil rigs. In 2012 MacGregor sold a 25% stake in the Inverness-based business to Japan's Mitsui to fund expansion. Global Energy has since bought four Australian companies. Profits hit £25.5m on £358m sales in 2012-13. He is also chairman of Scottish Premiership side Ross County FC.

6. Denise Coates - Bet365

Denise Coates: An early winner in online gambling

While still at school, Denise Coates worked for her father, Peter, as a cashier, crunching numbers in his Stoke-on-Trent-based betting shop business. She then trained as an accountant before taking over some of those shops, turning around their fortunes and selling them off to larger rival Coral for around £40m. Flush from the success of the deal, she noticed the growing popularity of online gambling around the time of the late-1990s dotcom boom and steered her family firm in that direction. Shunned by venture capitalists, she bought the domain name in 2000 and launched the website in March 2001 on her own. It was a good punt. Bet365, still based in the Potteries and best known for its half-time TV adverts starring Ray Winstone, saw profits soar in 2013-14 to £213.8m on £1.371bn sales.

7. John Roberts -

Raise a toast to John Roberts, who made a fortune selling domestic appliances online

A former sales manager for a fitted-kitchen firm who left school with no qualifications, Roberts founded AO World in 1999 after a friend challenged him to set up a business. The Bolton-based online retailer of white goods, formerly known as, grew rapidly as a result of its keen pricing and the British love of home improvement. It floated in February with a whopping £1.2bn valuation. Shares have since fallen sharply but the company is still worth £808m. It has produced strong sales growth and now has 24% of the UK market for large domestic appliances. Father of five Roberts says he wants his children to have a 'normal life', so intends to leave the bulk of his fortune to charity.

8. Peter Kelly - Softcat

Marlow-based Softcat was founded in 1993 by Kelly as a mail order software company for the business-to-business market. It's now morphed into a full-service IT provider that specialises in the public sector. It's a fast-growing operation that has won some hefty orders of late. In 2012-13 it made £28.2m profit on £395.8m sales. In 2013-14 it is set to take sales to £470m. Kelly now takes a back seat, having handed over the chairmanship in 2012. Softcat regularly features in the Sunday Times Best Companies awards and is planning to open its fifth regional office, in Leeds, next year.

9. Philip Doye - Kelway

Based in London's Docklands, Philip Doye's firm, Kelway, is a rapidly growing IT services provider with offices across the UK and in the United Arab Emirates. The firm sells computer software and hardware, data-centre services and technology training programmes. Backed by Core Venture Capital, which invested £5m in return for a 25% stake in 2006, Kelway is bagging big contracts such as a £150m deal with ATOS concluded in March. This should help Kelway to its aim of achieving sales of £1bn in three years. In 2013-14, Kelway made £13.5m profit on £527m sales. Doye - who began his career selling fax paper aged 21 - and his family have a 54% stake.

10. Jonathan Ruffer - Ruffer Management

Contrarian investor Jonathan Ruffer told the FT in early 2006 that 'there was not an ounce of entrepreneurial spirit in me'. That did not stop him from setting up one of the City's most admired hedge fund operations. Cambridge-educated Ruffer worked as a stockbroker and a barrister before joining Dunbar, a private bank. He finally set up his own business in 1994. Ruffer Management saw its funds under management rise 13% to £15.4bn in 2012-13. Profits also hit a record £115.3m on £146m turnover. Ruffer, who with his family owns just more than half, is a Christian and philanthropist, best known for spending £11m to save County Durham's Auckland Castle and its religious paintings from being auctioned off.

See the full list here

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