Hilary Devey joins Dragons’ Den

Multi-millionaire businesswoman replaces James Caan

Entrepreneur Hilary Devey is set to become the new Dragon in TV series the Dragons’ Den, replacing James Caan, it was announced today.

The businesswoman, who founded Pall-Ex , the pallet distribution network in 1996, will join existing Dragons: Peter Jones, Deborah Meaden, Theo Paphitis and Duncan Bannatyne.

Commenting on her new role in the Den, Devey said: “At a time when the banks are failing to invest in British small businesses, I am proud to be able to do my part to support the next generation of UK entrepreneurs.

“I will remember my own experiences and the realities of running a business today, when choosing to support – or reject – the budding entrepreneurs joining me in the Den.”

The BBC programme, in which aspiring entrepreneurs pitch ideas to bid for funding from the angel investors,has been commissioned for a further three series.

Here’s 10 things that you may not have known about Hiliary:


  1. She’s made at least two angel investments already. According to her website, http://www.hilarydevey.com/, Devey has backed delivery business PRONTO Sameday Couriers and table centrepieces company WOW Table Art, which provides remote controlled lighting furniture for events.
  2. Hilary Devey has faced more adversity than most. After the banks turned her down, Devey sold her house and downgraded her car to set up Pall-Ex. She also offered equity to colleagues in return for funding, but was rebuffed. She puts much of her drive for building the business down to her then-teenage son’s heroin addiction, which he came off around six years ago.
  3. Pall-Ex was launched in November 1996, with a mere 117 pallets distributed. The company regularly delivers more than 10,000 pallets a night now. Her business background was in distribution, first for Littlewoods, the Tibbet and Britten, Scorpio (now part of the United Carrier network), and seven years at TNT.
  4. The company delivers to 38 European countries every day. She is estimated to be worth more than £100m. 250-employee Pall-Ex boasts a turnover of around £100m with £3m profits. Devey is the only shareholder.
  5. When she appeared on The Secret Millionaire in 2008 she donated £136,000 to a hospice and community centre in the Manchester area.
  6. She also appeared on Channel Five’s The Business Inspector, trouble-shooting problems for struggling small businesses. Her media profile has been building gradually and her Twitter account, where she had less than 500 followers on the day the news about Dragons’ Den broke, is likely to become popular quickly http://twitter.com/HilaryDevey
  7. Devey owns £2.5m mansion Rangemore Hall in Staffordshire. 
  8. She is considering a public market flotation of Pall-Ex in the near future with the company estimated to be worth £150m to £200m.
  9. She is also planning to write a book detailing her business life.
  10.  Devey became the first woman to be named awarded the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport’s Sir Robert Lawrence award in 2009.

© Crimson Business Ltd. 2011

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