Dragons’ Den: Peter Jones CBE
The last remaining original Dragon, Jessops chief executive Jones has backed a number of successful start-ups from Levi Roots to Worthenshaw’s
Dragon from: Series 1 – ongoing, 2005 to current
Number of investments made: 60
Largest sum invested: £150,000
Most successful investment on the show: Levi Roots (Reggae Reggae Sauce)
Who is Peter Jones?
A serial entrepreneur and Commander of the Order of the British Empire, Peter Jones is said to be worth over £500m thanks to his portfolio of business ventures and investments.
Jones originally made his mark in business with Phones International Group – the wireless communications firm which he launched in April 1998 and would go on to achieve turnover of over £200m. But this was only the start.
In 2005, Jones – along with former Dragons’ Den panellist Theo Paphitis – purchased experiences company Red Letter Days from ex-Dragon Rachel Elnaugh; saving the business from administration and “crippling debts”.
In 2011, Jones sold part of Phones International Group, Wireless Logic, for £38m and two years later he purchased photography retail chain Jessops; becoming the owner and chief executive.
Jones as a Dragon
Having sat on the Den’s investor panel for over 11 years, it’s not surprising that Jones has made approximately 60 investments across a number of sectors including mobile technology, recruitment and more.
Jones seems to have a particular taste for food and drink businesses and has made several notable investments in the sector including Worthenshaw’s (since rebranded to Kirsty’s), Bare Naked Foods, and Spoon Cereals – all of which have become fast-growing brands.
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Arguably, Jones’ most successful investment – and the biggest success story of the show to date – has been Levi Roots with his Reggae Reggae sauce brand. Jones, and fellow Dragon Richard Farleigh, invested £50,000 in Roots’ business in exchange for a 40% share back in 2007. Today, Roots’ sauces are stocked in all the major supermarkets, Roots has opened a Caribbean restaurant, and he’s now said to be worth over £30m.
Life outside of the Den
Named one of the top UK entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter with over one million fans, Jones has gained a major profile in the enterprise landscape and has used his growing notoriety to create and support a number of business initiatives.
Under the Peter Jones Foundation, Jones founded the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy (PJEA). Launched in 2009, PJEA helps teach entrepreneurial skills to young people throughout the UK across a number of campuses. Every year, the Academy awards investment and mentoring to one budding young entrepreneur at its graduation ceremony. The most recent winner was an 18 year-old student who had come up with an idea for ethical skateboards.
Jones is also the founder of Tycoon in Schools – a free national enterprise scheme which gives students the chance to run a business while in secondary school or college. Running since 2012, the scheme has created approximately 900 new businesses.
In July 2016, Jones revealed that children as young as five would benefit from the Tycoon in Schools initiative with plans to roll-out the initiative to primary schools across the country.