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Dragons’ Den: Touker Suleyman

Owner of Hawes & Curtis and Ghost, the millionaire retail tycoon recently judged the Startups Awards and is back on your TV screens for Series 14…

Dragon from: Series 13 – ongoing, 2015 to current
Number of investments made: 4
Largest sum invested: £100,000
Most successful investment on the show: Liquiproof

Who is Touker Suleyman?

With 40 years’ experience in the retail fashion industry, alongside a background in manufacturing, Cypriat entrepreneur Touker Suleyman is responsible for helping to change the fates of fashion brands Hawes & Curtis and Ghost.

In 2004, Suleyman paid £1 to take then ailing suit wear brand Hawes & Curtis out of administration and would go on to turn it into a global company with revenues of over £21m. He took the same approach with Ghost; the womenswear retailer that he rescued from administration in 2008 and re-launched in 2012.

While Suleyman has become a multi-millionaire on the back of his various business ventures, including his other fashion franchise Low Profile Holdings, the entrepreneur hasn’t been immune to business failure.

In the 1980’s, he invested in clothing company Bamber Stores without undertaking any due diligence and it later emerged that the investee company was £20m in debt – Suleyman was left among the creditors. Soon after, Suleyman was forced to sell his house to pay off his debts after another investment in clothing business Mellins turned sour.

Suleyman as a Dragon

Known for offering investment as well as “Touker Time”, Suleyman has already become a big name in the Den in just one year of sitting on the investor panel, despite never having appeared on TV before the show.

His investments have ranged from food to crafts such as gourmet-flavoured chocolate brownie business Bad Brownies, which he invested £60,000 in, and wooden mechanical kit company Timberkits (£25,000).

His biggest investment of the show so far has been £100,000 which he backed in Liquiproof for a 50% equity stake. Featured in the Startups 100 index for the last two consecutive years, Liquiproof has created a non-toxic, non-hazardous waterproof coating for footwear, hats and clothing. Since launch in January 2014, its founder Caner Veli has secured listings with hundreds of stores including Urban Outfitters and Office and turnover is set to hit £2.6m for year-end 2016.

With Suleyman having returned for Series 14, we expect that he will start making more investments in the industry he knows all too well – fashion.

Life outside the Den

Suleyman has made several appearances as a keynote speaker at a number of industry-leading events and awards of late. Most noteworthy, he was one of a number of high-profile business leaders to judge the prestigious Startups Awards 2015 – the UK’s longest-running awards to celebrate the achievements of the country’s best and brightest new businesses launched in the last four years.

Last year, Suleyman also spoke at an event with the Evening Standard where he presented his top business tips to – which included finding a business mentor, and advising business owners to be wary of manipulative tactics.

Outside of his business and awards commitments, the fashion mogul is involved in several charities; acting as mentor for youth charity organisation the Prince’s Trust and an ambassador for WellChild and the Retail Trust.


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