Who's The Biggest Dragon In The Den?

by A. Ryan

It has been 9 series and 10 dragons since the Dragons' Den first broadcast. We know them and we have our favourites, but do we really know where their confidence comes from? Let's we shift the spotlight onto the dragons personal wealth and their way to the top.



Duncan Bannatyne
Born: February 1949.
Estimated Wealth: £430m
Source: Hotels, Fitness clubs
Duncan's rise to the richest dragon is a genuine rag-to-riches story.  After Duncan was dishonourably discharged from the navy culminating with a spell in a military detention centre and later an unrelated short stay at Glasgow's Barlinnie Prison, he found the necessary inspiration to turn his life around.
The business empire he now commands began with the sale of a £28,000 ice cream van business.



Peter Jones
Born: March 1966.
Estimated Wealth: £250m
Source: Mobile phones
Contrary to Duncan - his apparent on screen 'rival', Peter's entrepreneurial tendencies began in his mid-teens when he founded a tennis academy. However, his big success came with the establishing of Phones International Group, which now has £200m yearly revenue. In the meantime he also managed to agree 29 investments in the Den.



Theo Paphitis
Born: September 1959
Estimated Wealth: £170m
Source: Lingerie, Stationery
Theo Paphitis's story does not luck unexpected twists as well. His passion for football led to him spending 8 years as the chairman of Millwall FC. Despite the fact that some might know him as the man who led the club to the final of the FA Cup back in 2004,  the general audience recognises him as the man behind the revival of Ryman and La Senza (generating a cool of £100m). His new adventure is called Boux Avenue and it will aim to become the no1 online destination for women's lingerie, nightwear and swimwear.



Hilary Devey
Born: March 1957.
Estimated Wealth: £50m
Source: Transport
Hilary is another dragon who had to fight hard for her fortune. Success did not come easy for her. Her biography tells how she was forced to sell her house and car after banks refused to invest in her and suffered a stroke.
Now Hilary owns Pall-Ex, pallet exchange business founded in 1996, and takes pride in establishing herself in what could be described as a male dominated industry.


Deborah Meaden
Born: February 1959.
Estimated Wealth: £40m
Source: Leisure
Deborah's way to the top is more classic. She successfully expanding her parents' caravan park business and became the major shareholder during a management buyout, prior to selling the company for £33m whilst retaining a 23% share. The business was then sold again in 2007, to Parkdean Holidays, in an £83m deal which saw Deborah cash in on her stake.
Deborah is now a full time investor, with her business portfolio encompassing a range of ventures including partnership with Theo from the previous series of Dragon's Den.

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