Deborah Meaden

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Deborah Meaden
Born (1959-02-11) 11 February 1959 (age 55)
Taunton, Somerset, England
Residence Somerset
Primrose Hill, London
Nationality British
Education Trowbridge High School
Alma mater Brighton Technical College
Occupation Businesswoman
Known for Dragons' Den,
Strictly Come Dancing
Net worth £40 million [1]
Spouse(s) Paul Meaden (m. 1993)
Website
www.deborahmeaden.com

Deborah Sonia Meaden (born 11 February 1959) is an English businesswoman[2] who ran a multi-million pound family holiday business, before completing a management buyout, but is now best known for her appearances on the BBC Two business programme Dragons' Den, and is currently starring in her ninth series on the panel.[3][4]

Meaden recently starred in the eleventh series of the BBC One talent show Strictly Come Dancing.

Early life[edit]

Meaden was born in Somerset. Her parents divorced when she was young and her mother moved Deborah and her older sister Gail to Brightlingsea in Essex. Her mother remarried and had two more daughters (Cass and Emma) with Brian, the man Meaden calls Dad.[5] Meaden went to the Godolphin School, Salisbury, for a brief period and then to Trowbridge High School.[6]

Career[edit]

On leaving school when she was 16, Meaden studied business at Brighton Technical College, after which she worked as a sales-room model in a fashion house.[7] After graduation, she moved to Italy at 19 and set up a glass and ceramics export agency,[4] which sold products to retailers including Harvey Nichols.[7] The company failed after just 18 months.[5]

I consider it a failure to slog on with a business that is going to die sooner rather than later. And that's a skill I've had from my very, very early days. It's very difficult to realise that you're not going to make any money out of something. A lot of people are blinded. They think, "I can't give this up. I'd feel like a failure."

Meaden and a partner bought one of the first Stefanel textile franchises in the UK, and which was based in the West Country; she sold out two years later to her partner for £10,000.[5] She then had several successful leisure and retail businesses including a spell operating a prize bingo at Butlins in Minehead.

In 1988 she joined her family's business to run its amusement arcade operations and in 1992 joined Weststar Holidays, a family holiday park operator based in Exeter, Devon but with its major sites based in South West England. In 1999 she led a management buyout and acquired the majority shareholding. By the time she sold the company 6 years later the Weststar was providing holidays for more than 150,000 people each year with an EBITDA in excess of £11m. In 2005 she made a partial exit when Weststar was sold in a deal worth £33 million to Phoenix Equity Partners,[8] and in August 2007 her remaining stake of 23%[9] in Weststar Holidays was liquidated when the firm was sold to Alchemy Partners for £83m, valuing her stake at about £19m.[10]

In 2009, Meaden acquired Fox Brothers, a West Country textile mill established in 1772 and still based in Wellington, Somerset along with fellow shareholder, Douglas Cordeaux, former design director at Pepe Jeans London.[11] She was also involved in a collaboration with BBC conductor Charles Hazlewood, 'Play the Field', a weekend of classical music on Charles's farm in Somerset over the August bank holiday weekend 2009.[12] In October 2011, Meaden launched 'The Merchant Fox', an online store selling British-made luxury goods with provenance.

Television[edit]

Dragons' Den[edit]

Meaden is most famous for her appearance as a "dragon" on the BBC Two programme Dragons' Den. She took over from Rachel Elnaugh in the third series of the show, which commenced on August 3, 2006. Like Elnaugh who preceded her, Meaden was the only female "dragon" on the programme, although this changed in subsequent seasons with the arrival of Hilary Devey to replace James Caan. So far in the Den she has agreed investments in 34 businesses to the value of over £2m. Only Peter Jones and Theo Paphitis have invested more than Meaden, although they have been on the show for longer.[13]

Strictly Come Dancing[edit]

Meaden took part in the eleventh series of the BBC One dancing show Strictly Come Dancing, which began on 7 September 2013 and was partnered with professional dancer Robin Windsor.[14][15][16][17] She was eliminated from the show on 26 October.

Week # Dance/Song Judges' scores Result
Craig Revel Horwood Darcey Bussell Len Goodman Bruno Tonioli Total
1 Tango / "Money, Money, Money" 6 6 6 6 24 Safe
2 Cha-Cha-Cha / "Respect" 5 7 6 6 24 Safe
3 Quickstep / "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher" 7 7 7 7 28 Safe
4 Jive / "Making Your Mind Up" 5 6 6 6 23 Safe
5 Viennese Waltz / "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" 6 7 7 7 27 Eliminated

Other appearances[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Meaden met her husband Paul in summer 1985 while he worked at Weststar during his university break. She didn't want a family so they separated, but after she took a trip to Venezuela, she returned to London and they married in 1993. The couple have no children, and live on a restored model farm in Somerset with numerous animals. The couple also have a home in Primrose Hill, London.[citation needed]

Books[edit]

Meaden published Common Sense Rules (Random House) in the UK in May 2009, she used a ghostwriting service known as Professional Ghost to complete this project.

Other work[edit]

In November 2009, Meaden featured in a short film to promote Somerset to businesses, commissioned by Into Somerset,[19] having previously recorded two other short films for the inward investment agency in February 2009.[20]

Meaden is a member of the Council of Ambassadors of the World Wildlife Fund.[21]

She does a lot of work with the Dogs Trust charity.

Controversy[edit]

In 2009, a planning inspector criticised Meaden's evidence to his enquiry as "implausible" in a dispute over the granting of village green status to a field on which Mudstone LLP, a firm in which she is a partner, wished to build 48 homes.[22][23]

Honours[edit]

In July 2010, Meaden was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Exeter Business School.[24] She also received an honorary degree from Staffordshire University in the same month.[25] She was also given an honorary degree at Keele University in July 2013.[26]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Deborah Meaden and family". Sunday Times Rich List 2008. London: The Sunday Times. 2008-04-27. Retrieved 2008-08-18. 
  2. ^ http://www.companydirectorcheck.com/deborah-sonia-meaden Companies related to Deborah Meaden
  3. ^ "BBC – Dragons' Den – Dragons – Deborah Meaden". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-01-04. 
  4. ^ a b Hardy, Rebecca (2008-08-16). "The only deal that Dragon Deborah failed to close? Children". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  5. ^ a b c Hardy, Rebecca (2008-08-16). "The only deal that Dragon Deborah failed to close? Children". London: Daily Mail. Retrieved 2008-08-18. 
  6. ^ "The alternative Rich List". Daily Mail – This is Money. 2008-07-16. Retrieved 2008-08-18. 
  7. ^ a b "Vicky Frost Meets Deborah Meaden". London: Guardian Unlimited. 2006-08-28. Retrieved 2008-08-18. 
  8. ^ "Deborah Meaden – profile". BBC Dragons' Den. Archived from the original on 2008-03-07. Retrieved 2008-08-18. 
  9. ^ http://www.wwf.org.uk/what_we_do/about_us/more_about_wwf/wwf_uk_council_of_ambassadors/deborah_meaden.cfm
  10. ^ "Deborah Meaden and family". Sunday Times Rich List 2008 (London: The Sunday Times). 2008-04-27. Retrieved 2008-08-18. 
  11. ^ Keens, Emma (16 January 2010). "I’m in: Dragon Meaden buys Fox Brothers". The Times. 
  12. ^ "Play the field site". 
  13. ^ "Question time with Hannah Pool: Dragons' Den's Deborah Meaden on why she can't stand bullshit". London: The Guardian. 2007-11-22. Retrieved 2008-08-18. 
  14. ^ John Plunkett. "Strictly Come Dancing 2013 contestants unveiled | Television & radio". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-09-28. 
  15. ^ Published Monday, Sep 2 2013, 19:30 BST (2013-09-02). "Strictly Come Dancing 2013 full lineup: Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Ben Cohen - Strictly Come Dancing News - Reality TV". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2013-09-28. 
  16. ^ Published Monday, Sep 2 2013, 22:37 BST (2013-09-02). "Strictly Come Dancing Deborah Meaden: 'Criticism must be constructive' - Strictly Come Dancing News - Reality TV". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2013-09-28. 
  17. ^ "BBC One - Strictly Come Dancing - Deborah Meaden". Bbc.co.uk. 1970-01-01. Retrieved 2013-09-28. 
  18. ^ BBC Speaker programme
  19. ^ Somerset – where you and your business can grow – Into Somerset website
  20. ^ Into Somerset video gallery – Into Somerset website
  21. ^ Deborah Meaden. wwf.org.uk
  22. ^ Dragons' Den star in planning row. BBC News (2009-09-04). Retrieved on 2012-01-04.
  23. ^ Planning inspector blasts TV Dragon Meaden. Thisissouthdevon.co.uk (2009-09-04). Retrieved on 2012-01-04.
  24. ^ University of Exeter Honorary Graduate Page. Exeter.ac.uk. Retrieved on 2012-01-04.
  25. ^ Staffordshire University announces 2010 honours list. Staffs.ac.uk. Retrieved on 2012-01-04.
  26. ^ [1][dead link]

External links[edit]