Famous British Entrepreneurs

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Despite taking a beating during the World War, Great Britain has evolved as one of the most thriving economies of recent times, riding on the backs of its entrepreneurs. Recent studies have revealed that Great Britain is home to some of the wealthiest and celebrated entrepreneurs of all time. Apart from helping people overcome their employment woes, entrepreneurs of modern times have also introduced new work cultures, and have managed to break the age-old stereotypes associated with a work environment. The list of eminent entrepreneurs of the UK is incomplete without the mention of self-made billionaire duo David and Simon Reuben, retail king Philip Green and the philanthropic business tycoon Richard Branson. While Branson is renowned for the Virgin Group of companies owning the Virgin Airways and Virgin Mobiles, the Reuben brothers started out in scrap metal business and eventually ventured out to other raw material business and real estate. Ann Summers the CEO of an internationally acclaimed lingerie brand and Lesley Reynolds, the co-founder of the multi-faceted beauty clinic in London are some of the famous female British entrepreneurs who have broken all stereotypes and established a name for themselves in their respective industry. Here we present to you biographies of some of the most famous British entrepreneurs. Acquaint yourself with their life stories, timelines and also a few interesting facts & trivia related to their lives.
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 1 
Richard Branson
(Founder of the 'Virgin Group')
Richard Branson
9
Birthdate: July 18, 1950
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Blackheath, London, Engand

Richard Branson is an English business magnate. The founder of Virgin Group Ltd., which controls over 400 companies, Branson was named on Time magazine's list of 100 Most Influential People in The World. Branson has also had a major impact as a philanthropist; he set up a charitable organization called Branson School of Entrepreneurship to provide entrepreneurial training to youngsters.

 2 
Jamie Oliver
(Chef and Restaurateur)
Jamie Oliver
5
Birthdate: May 27, 1975
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Clavering, U.K.

Jamie Oliver is an English restaurateur and chef who gained international recognition after appearing on popular TV shows, such as Jamie's Kitchen and The Naked Chef. In 2005, his Feed Me Better campaign helped introduce several children to healthier foods. He also established a charity restaurant called Fifteen, which employs disadvantaged young people.

Marco Pierre White
5
Birthdate: December 11, 1961
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Leeds, United Kingdom
Marco Pierre White is known as the world’s first celebrity chef and became the youngest and the first British chef to win three Michelin stars. He has trained chefs Gordon Ramsay and Mario Batali, and has appeared on culinary shows such as Hell's Kitchen and Marco Pierre White's Kitchen Wars.
 4 
Kate Moss
(Supermodel)
Kate Moss
4
Birthdate: January 16, 1974
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Croydon, England

Kate Moss, one of the highest-paid supermodels of the 1990s, was one of the pioneers of the “heroin chic” trend. Featured on TIME 100, she was known for her collaboration with Calvin Klein and her size-zero figure. She owns a clothing range and is a fashion editor for British Vogue.

 5 
J. Paul Getty
(Businessman)
J. Paul Getty
7
Birthdate: December 15, 1892
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
Died: June 6, 1976

As the patriarch of the Getty family, J. Paul Getty was an influential petrol-industrialist who founded the Getty Oil Company. In 1966, Paul made it to the Guinness Book of Records as the world's richest private citizen. An avid collector of antiquities and art, his collection is preserved at the J. Paul Getty Museum in California.

 6 
Peter Jones
(Entrepreneur)
Peter Jones
4
Birthdate: March 18, 1966
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Maidenhead
Entrepreneur and reality star Peter Jones is best known for his stints on the shows Dragons' Den, American Investor, and Tycoon. He owns several businesses, including Wines4Business.com and Phones International Group. He received a CBE honor in 2009 and is also a luxury sports car enthusiast.
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 7 
Davy Jones
(Musician)
Davy Jones
4
Birthdate: December 30, 1945
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Openshaw, Manchester, England
Died: February 29, 2012
Alan Sugar
4
Birthdate: March 24, 1947
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: London Borough of Hackney

Alan Sugar is a British business magnate, politician, author, and media personality. He is credited with founding the popular electronics company, Amstrad. He also co-owned the English football club Tottenham Hotspur from 1991 to 2001. Also a well-known philanthropist, Sugar donated £200,000 to the Labour Party in 2001. He has also donated for charities, such as Great Ormond Street Hospital.

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 9 
Lisa Vanderpump
(Actress, Restaurateur)
Lisa Vanderpump
5
Birthdate: September 15, 1960
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, England

Lisa Vanderpump is a British restaurateur, actress, and television personality. Vanderpump has owned 36 restaurants, clubs, and bars in Los Angeles and London along with her husband Ken Todd. Also a well-known philanthropist, Lisa Vanderpump supports charity organizations, such as Keep Memory Alive, which was established to create awareness about neurological disorders like Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease.

 10 
Guccio Gucci
(Italian Businessman)
Guccio Gucci
3
Birthdate: March 26, 1881
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Florence
Died: January 2, 1953
Son of an Italian leather-goods maker, Guccio Gucci was initially reluctant to join his family business and worked in hotels instead. Changing his mind later, he opened the first Gucci shop in Florence in 1921. The year of his death, 1953, saw the opening of the first Gucci store abroad.
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 11 
Heather Mills
(Former Model, Businesswoman and Ex-Wife of Paul McCartney)
Heather Mills
4
Birthdate: January 12, 1968
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Aldershot, Hampshire, England
Model Heather Mills lost her left leg in an accident but continued to model using a prosthetic leg. She was previously married to singer Paul McCartney. An avid animal rights activist, she is associated with organizations such as Viva! She has appeared on reality shows like Dancing with The Stars.
 12 
Bernie Ecclestone
(Business Magnate)
Bernie Ecclestone
4
Birthdate: October 28, 1930
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Bungay, Suffolk, England

Bernie Ecclestone is a British business magnate. Often described as F1 Supremo by the media, Ecclestone served as the Formula One Group's former chief executive. Between 2007 and 2011, he also co-owned the English soccer club, Queens Park Rangers. In the early-2000s, Bernie Ecclestone refused to accept a knighthood, stating that he does not deserve the honor.

 13 
Anne Lister
(English Diarist)
Anne Lister
4
Birthdate: April 3, 1791
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Halifax, West Yorkshire, England
Died: September 22, 1840

Apart from being a traveler and a mountaineer, Anne Lister was also known as the world’s "first modern lesbian". Nicknamed Gentleman Jack for her androgynous fashion, which almost always included the color black, she penned diaries that contained many secret codes that were deciphered much after her death.

 14 
Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi
(Entrepreneur)
Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi
4
Birthdate: 1983
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: United Kingdom

Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi became known internationally when he married the granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Beatrice. He is otherwise known as the founder of an interior design and property development company called Banda, for which he also serves as the chief executive.

 15 
Heston Blumenthal
7
Birthdate: May 27, 1966
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Shepherd's Bush, London, England, United Kingdom

Heston Blumenthal is a British celebrity chef whose unusual recipes, such as Scotch eggs and triple-cooked chips have been widely imitated. He is considered a pioneer of multi-sensory cooking and his scientific approach to cooking has earned him honorary degrees from several universities. In 2004, he won the prestigious Chef Award, joining the likes of Phil Howard and Gordon Ramsay.

 16 
Brian Epstein
(Businessperson, Impresario, Talent agent, Talent manager)
Brian Epstein
5
Birthdate: September 19, 1934
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Liverpool
Died: August 27, 1967
 17 
Edd China
(Television Presenter)
Edd China
5
Birthdate: May 9, 1971
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, England
Edd China is best known as the host of the Discovery Channel show Wheeler Dealers. He has also been part of Fifth Gear and Top Gear. He established Cummfy Banana Limited. After racing a motorized sofa at 148 km/h, China set a Guinness record for the fastest furniture.
 18 
James Dyson
(Founder of ‘Dyson Ltd’ and Inventor of the Dual Cyclone Bagless Vacuum Cleaner)
James Dyson
5
Birthdate: May 2, 1947
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cromer, England

James Dyson is a British industrial designer, inventor, entrepreneur, and landowner. He is credited with founding the popular technology company, Dyson Ltd. He is also credited with inventing the Dual Cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner. Also known for his philanthropic activities, Dyson established the James Dyson Foundation to support engineering education and to inspire young people.

 19 
Rick Stein
4
Birthdate: January 4, 1947
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Churchill, Oxfordshire, England

Celebrity chef Rick Stein has managed the U.K.’s Stein Hotel and Restaurant with his first wife, Jill Stein. He later became the head chef and co-owner of Rick Stein at Bannisters in Australia, with his second wife, Sarah. He has authored cookbooks and presented culinary shows such as Seafood Odyssey.

 20 
Prue Leith
(British-South African Restaurateur, Chef, Television Presenter, Journalist, Cookery Writer)
Prue Leith
9
Birthdate: February 18, 1940
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: South Africa

British-South African chef and culinary expert Prue Leith had begun her career with a lunch-supplying business. She later launched her Michelin-starred restaurant Leith's in Notting Hill and a culinary school. Best known as a judge on The Great British Menu, she is also associated with various charitable initiatives.

 21 
Neil Morrissey
(British Actor Known for His Role as Tony in the Sitcom 'Men Behaving Badly)
Neil Morrissey
6
Birthdate: July 4, 1962
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Stafford, Staffordshire, England

Best known for his role of Tony in Men Behaving Badly, English actor Neil Anthony Morrissey developed a love for acting while in school. He has played significant roles in various films and televise series like The Bounty, Bob the Builder, Waterloo Road, Line of Duty, and Boon. Also a successful businessperson, he now owns a chain of pubs in Staffordshire.

 22 
Mike Ashley
(Entrepreneur)
Mike Ashley
3
Birthdate: September 9, 1964
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Burnham
British retail magnate Mike Ashley is the CEO of the sports retailer Sports Direct and owns the department store group House of Fraser. He also owns the football club Newcastle United and once owned stakes in Rangers International. He is media shy and is known for his signature white shirts.
 23 
Frank Williams
4
Birthdate: April 16, 1942
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: South Shields, England
 24 
Harry Gordon Selfridge
(business magnate)
Harry Gordon Selfridge
4
Birthdate: January 11, 1856
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ripon
Died: May 8, 1947
 25 
David Bale
(Entrepreneur)
David Bale
3
Birthdate: September 2, 1941
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: South Africa
Died: December 30, 2003

David Bale was an English entrepreneur and animal rights activist. He worked closely with The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, which aims at protecting endangered mountain gorillas, and served as one of its board members. Apart from his work as an activist for animal rights and environmental causes, David Bale is also known as the father of actor Christian Bale.

 26 
Denis Thatcher
(Businessman and Husband of Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher)
Denis Thatcher
4
Birthdate: May 10, 1915
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Lewisham, London, England
Died: June 26, 2003
Businessman Denis Thatcher was married to British prime minister Margaret Thatcher from 1951 till his death in 2003. He initially ran the firm Atlas and was later associated with companies such as Attwoods and Quinton Hazell. He had served in World War II and received the Thatcher baronetcy in 1990.
 27 
J. Bruce Ismay
(Businessman)
J. Bruce Ismay
3
Birthdate: December 12, 1862
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Crosby, Lancashire, England, United Kingdom
Died: October 17, 1937

J. Bruce Ismay was an English businessman. He served as managing director and chairman of the popular shipping company White Star Line, which operated the ill-fated passenger liner RMS Titanic. In 1912, Ismay was subjected to severe criticism after surviving the sinking of the Titanic. In the 1997 film Titanic, J. Bruce Ismay was played by actor Jonathan Hyde.

 28 
Karren Brady
(British Business Executive, TV Personality and Vice-Chairman of ‘West Ham United F.C.’)
Karren Brady
4
Birthdate: April 4, 1969
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Edmonton, London, England

One of the UK’s best-known businesswomen, Baroness Karren Brady had begun her career in advertising sales. She has been a judge on BBC1’s The Apprentice and an MD at Birmingham City FC. She is a Barclays LifeSkills ambassador, too, and has been part of the House of Lords.

 29 
Lenny McLean
(British Unlicensed Boxer and Bouncer Who Was Known as 'The Hardest Man in ritain')
Lenny McLean
3
Birthdate: April 9, 1949
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Hoxton, London, England
Died: July 28, 1998

Better known by his nickname, The Guv’nor, boxer Lenny McLean had also been a nightclub bouncer and was held in high regard by the criminal world. He had even served prison time for petty crimes. While he participated in unlicensed boxing for money, he later turned to acting.

 30 
Thomas Crapper
(Businessman)
Thomas Crapper
3
Birthdate: September 28, 1836
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Waterside, Thorne, Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
Died: January 27, 1910
 31 
Spencer Matthews
(Television personality)
Spencer Matthews
4
Birthdate: August 6, 1988
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: London, England
 32 
Max Mosley
(Racecar driver, Lawyer, Politician, Directeur sportif)
Max Mosley
3
Birthdate: April 13, 1940
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: London

Max Mosley was a British lawyer and racing driver. He is credited with founding the Formula One racing team and racing car constructor, March Engineering. He also served as the president of a non-profit association named Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), which represents the interests of car users and motoring organizations around the world.

 33 
Gemma Collins
(Media Personality and Businesswoman Known for Her TV Reality Series ‘The Only Way Is Essex’)
Gemma Collins
3
Birthdate: January 31, 1981
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Romford, England

Reality star and entrepreneur Gemma Collins soared to fame with reality shows such as The Only Way Is Essex, I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!, Celebrity Big Brother, and Dancing on Ice. She later launched her own reality franchise, Gemma Collins: Diva, and her own BBC podcast.

 34 
Simon Fuller
(Entrepreneur)
Simon Fuller
3
Birthdate: May 17, 1960
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cyprus
 35 
Robert Maxwell
(Media Proprietor)
Robert Maxwell
4
Birthdate: June 10, 1923
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Slatinské Doly, Czechoslovakia (now Solotvyno, Ukraine)
Died: November 5, 1991
Media magnate Robert Maxwell set up Pergamon Press, served as a Labour MP, and acquired media houses such as the Mirror Group and Macmillan. Apart from his lavish lifestyle, he is remembered for embezzling the Mirror Group pension funds. He died after falling off his yacht in the Atlantic Ocean.
 36 
Anita Roddick
(Businesswoman)
Anita Roddick
3
Birthdate: October 23, 1942
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Littlehampton, England
Died: September 10, 2007

Anita Roddick was a British businesswoman and human rights activist. She was also a passionate crusader for environmental issues. She founded the British version of The Body Shop, now The Body Shop International Limited. Her company was among the first to prohibit the use of ingredients tested on animals in some products. She was also involved with Greenpeace.  

 37 
Sarah Willingham
(Restaurateur, Businessperson)
Sarah Willingham
3
Birthdate: December 21, 1973
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Stoke-on-Trent

It is believed Sarah Willingham had begun working in the hospitality industry at age 13. Apart from managing the popular restaurants Planet Hollywood and Pizza Express, she also manages a huge portfolio that includes The Bombay Bicycle Club and The London Cocktail Club. She has also been part of Dragons' Den.

 38 
Cecil John Rhodes
(Former Prime Minister of the Cape Colony)
Cecil John Rhodes
5
Birthdate: July 5, 1853
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom
Died: March 26, 1902
English mining entrepreneur Cecil Rhodes founded the South African territory of Rhodesia, which now consists of the countries Zimbabwe and Zambia. He had been the prime minister of Cape Colony and the chairman of De Beers. He also founded the Rhodes University and launched the Rhodes Scholarship.
 39 
James Murdoch
(Businessman and CEO of '21st Century Fox' (2015 - 2019))
James Murdoch
5
Birthdate: December 13, 1972
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Wimbledon, London, United Kingdom
Media magnate James Murdoch, the youngest son of Rupert Murdoch, has been the CEO of 21st Century Fox. He was also the chairman and CEO of News Corporation (Europe and Asia) and also of Sky plc, handling networks such as Star TV. He was involved in the BSkyB phone-hacking scandal.
 40 
Gregg Wallace
(Known for Co-presenting 'Masterchef', 'Celebrity Masterchef' and 'Masterchef: The Professionals')
Gregg Wallace
3
Birthdate: October 17, 1964
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Peckham, London, England

Celebrity chef Gregg Wallace is now better known as a MasterChef judge. Interestingly, he had begun his career as a greengrocer in Covert Garden and had then launched George Allan's Greengrocers. Wallace met his wife on Twitter, when she asked him a cooking-related question. He also owns a fitness brand.

 41 
Trinny Woodall
(TV Presenter)
Trinny Woodall
3
Birthdate: February 8, 1964
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Marylebone, London, England
Fashion and makeover expert Trinny Woodall, founder of the makeup brand Trinny London, began her career as a marketing expert and then wrote fashion columns for The Daily Telegraph. She has co-hosted What Not to Wear with Susannah Constantine, has co-written several bestselling fashion books, and launched a sleepwear line.
 42 
Tej Lalvani
(Businessman)
Tej Lalvani
3
Birthdate: July 13, 1974
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: United Kingdom
 43 
Philip Green
(British Businessman and Chairman of the Retail Company the ‘Arcadia Group’)
Philip Green
4
Birthdate: March 15, 1952
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Surrey, England, United Kingdom

British businessman Philip Green is the chairman of Arcadia Group, a British multinational retailing company. Previously, he was the chairman and chief executive of Amber Day. He has been called the "King of the High Street" owing to his involvement in several major businesses. He is a controversial businessman and has been accused of using sweatshops.

 44 
Gary Rhodes
(Restaurateur)
Gary Rhodes
3
Birthdate: April 22, 1960
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, England
Died: November 26, 2019

Best known for his appearances on shows such as MasterChef and Hell's Kitchen, Gary Rhodes later also launched his own series, Rhodes Around Britain. He owned several restaurants in the UK and the Middle East. The celebrity chef shocked everyone with his untimely death at age 59 due to brain hemorrhage.

 45 
Donald Crowhurst
(Former businessman and amateur sailor who disappeared while competing in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, a single-handed, round-the-world yacht race)
Donald Crowhurst
3
Birthdate: 1932 AD
Birthplace: Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, India
Died: 1969 AD
 46 
Jacob Rothschild
4
Birthdate: April 29, 1936
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Berkshire, United Kingdom
 47 
John Torode
(Celebrity chef)
John Torode
4
Birthdate: July 23, 1965
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Melbourne, Australia
Australian celebrity chef and restaurateur John Torode initially worked at the U.K.-based Conran Group's restaurants. He is also known for his appearances on shows such as This Morning and the revival of MasterChef in 2005. He owned the Luxe and Smiths of Smithfield and has also authored several cookbooks.
 48 
Mark Thatcher
(Businessman and Son of Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990)
Mark Thatcher
9
Birthdate: August 15, 1953
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Dartford, Kent, England

Mark Thatcher is the son of former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher. For the major part of his career as a businessman, Thatcher was accused of using his mother's position to gain an upper hand, especially in the Al-Yamamah arms deal. In 2005, he was convicted for funding the 2004 Wonga Coup in South Africa.

Raj Kundra
6
Birthdate: September 9, 1975
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London
 50 
Ruth Porat
(CFO of Alphabet Inc and Google)
Ruth Porat
3
Birthdate: 1958 AD
Birthplace: Cheshire, England, United Kingdom
Ruth Porat, the CFO of Alphabet Inc. and Google since 2015, was also the CFO and executive vice president of Morgan Stanley earlier. She was seventh on Fortune’s Most Powerful Women list in 2020. Named Institutional Investor’s Best Internet CFO, she has served on the boards of various corporate bodies.