Dragons’ Den: Hilary Devey CBE

Founder of £100m freight distribution company Pall-Ex, Devey’s investment in the Den included hair range Shampooheads and bedding start-up Duvalay

Dragon from: Series 9 – Series 10, 2011 to 2012
Number of investments made: 8
Largest sum invested: £85,000
Most successful investment on the show: Duvalay

Who is Hilary Devey?

Bolton-born Hilary Devey dropped out of school at 16 and served a short term in the Women’s Royal Air Force before getting a job as a clerk at a freight delivery firm.

It was this unlikely move that would lead to her becoming a millionaire by the age of 40. After overhearing a driver complaining that he would have to wait all night to fill his lorry with enough cargo to justify his journey, she was inspired to found freight distributing company Pall-Ex in 1996 – a company which enables drivers to pool their freight.

Refusing external funding, Devey financed the business by selling her house and car – and today the business is estimated to be worth over £100m and operates a daily service to 38 European countries.

Devey as a Dragon

Devey made eight investments during her two year stint in the Den, only two of which went through after the show – hair care range Shampooheads and bespoke travel bedding firm Duvalay.

Devey and Theo Paphitis invested £75,000 for a 20% share of Shampooheads in series 10 of the programme. To date, the pair still retain their share in the Newcastle-based firm, which secured major deals in 2014 to see its products stocked as far as Dubai, Ireland and Australia, with other international opportunities in its sights.

Devey put up the full £80,000 for 26% equity in Duvalay in series 9 and still owns her share in the business.

The deal proved fruitful, with Devey designing and launching her own collection of luxury bedding in collaboration with the company in 2015. Duvalay’s franchise model has seen it achieve global success, launching in the US, Australia, New Zealand, Holland, Spain, Portugal and Iceland.

Life after the Den

Devey has remained in the media spotlight since her departure from the Den in 2012, presenting Channel 4 show The Intern in 2013, which gave young people the chance to compete for their dream job. She has also appeared as a guest panelist on Loose Women and hosted another Channel 4 show Running the Shop in 2015.

Devey has championed the causes of various charities, as the vice president of Carers trust, a patron of the Stroke Association and donating a penny for every pallet distributed by the Pall-Ex network through the ‘Penny a Pallet’ scheme.

She was also awarded a CBE in the Queen’s 2013 Birthday Honours for services to the transport industry and charity.

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