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Deborah built three businesses before taking on the family’s holiday parks empire. She concentrated on service, kept the most profitable locations and then sold her stake for over £110m. Deborah refutes the idea that the customer is king. She prefers to treat them as respected friends: “We should care about their opinions and deal with their problems, but accept the limits of the relationship.”
Deborah Meaden is a British multi-millionaire who launched her own glass and ceramics export company whilst still in her teens and straight out of business college, before setting up one of the first Stefanel fashion franchises in the UK.
With several successful business in the leisure and retail sector under her belt, she became Managing Director of her family's holiday park business Weststar Holidays, acquiring the major shareholding in a management buyout. She later sold the company in a deal worth £33 million whilst retaining a 23% stake. In her time in charge, she moved the company into being a high-quality, service-focused business catering for over 150,000 holidaymakers a year. She also overhauled operations and sold off the less successful sites to concentrate on the larger, better-located businesses. This new model meant Deborah could sell her remaining stake for a further £83million.
Since moving away from the leisure industry, Deborah has become an investor. Having first invested in a market research company, Deborah became a household name through her presence in BBC2’s Dragon’s Den. The show has lead her to invest and advise all manner of businesses from a wool manufacturers to a baby products company, an on-line antique valuation service to a recipe website.
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