Hilary Devey

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Hilary Devey
Born Hilary Lorraine Devey
(1957-03-10) 10 March 1957 (age 57)
Bolton, Lancashire, United Kingdom[1]
Nationality British
Occupation Businesswoman, television personality, entrepreneur
Years active 1996–present
Employer Channel 4 (current)
BBC (former)
Notable work(s) Dragons' Den (2011–12)
Hotel GB (2012)
The Intern (2013)
Net worth Increase $75m (approx.)[citation needed]
Title CEO, Chairman of Pall-Ex Group
Term 1996–present
Children Mevlit Brewster-Ahmet
Awards Honorary Doctorate of Laws (2010) Honorary Doctor of Business Administration (2012)
CBE (2013)
Official Website

Hilary Lorraine Devey CBE (born 10 March 1957) is an English businesswoman, television personality and entrepreneur, best known for her two-year role on BBC Two programme Dragons' Den until she left to present the five-part Channel 4 series The Intern.

Early life[edit]

She attended Bolton School in Bolton, Lancashire and as a seven year child, she witnessed the results of the bankruptcy of her father, who had owned a central heating company, when bailiffs removed furniture and household goods from the family home. Her father then earned a living managing pubs and hotels. After leaving Bolton Grammar at the age of sixteen she served for a short time in the Women's Royal Air Force in air traffic control and supply accounts and was stationed at RAF Brize Norton. She later moved to London.[2][3][4]



Devey made her fortune launching Pall-Ex, a palletised freight network. Launched in 1996, Pall-Ex was the third palletised goods distribution network to be launched in the UK. It was based on the well-established hub and spoke express parcels distribution model - this form of pallet network was pioneered by Palletline in 1992. Pall-Ex handles around 10,000 palletised consignments through its Leicestershire hub each day and has annual revenues of approximately £75 million.[citation needed]


Devey has featured in several television programmes including Channel 4's Secret Millionaire in 2008, where she donated more than £350,000 to the Back Door Music Project and the Syke Community Centre in Rochdale. In March 2010, she appeared on The Business Inspector for Channel 5, a four-part documentary series which saw her use her business acumen and expertise to help transform struggling small businesses into successful profitable companies.

In February 2011, Devey joined the panel of the BBC Two programme Dragons' Den[5] following the departure of James Caan. Appearing on the programme she popularised her expression "you would make my foot itch" to indicate dissatisfaction or lack of interest in a venture. She later announced that she would be leaving the series in June 2012, as she had signed an exclusive two year agreement with Channel 4.

In September 2012, Devey presented her last programme for BBC Two, a mini-series called Hilary Devey's Women at the Top, a joint Open University and BBC Two production.[6] In April 2013 she began fronting the new Channel 4 series The Intern, a six-part business documentary in which sees gave three young interns a week's trial in the job of their dreams. The first three aired in the Thursday 9pm time-slot, but the later three were broadcast on Wednesday nights at 11pm.

In 2013, Hilary along with broadcaster Greg James appeared on a celebrity episode of The Million Pound Drop.[7][8]

On 3 April 2014, Devey announced that she was set to host a new Channel 4 business programme, which she will begin filming in June.[9]

On 20 June 2014, Devey will take part in a celebrity episode of Fifteen to One.[10]

Year Title Role Channel
2008 Secret Millionaire A Secret Millionaire Channel 4
2010 The Business Inspector Presenter Channel 5
2011–2012 Dragons' Den Dragon BBC Two
2012 Hilary Devey's Women at the Top Presenter
Hotel GB Hotel Shop Manager Channel 4
2013 The Intern Presenter
2014 New show (Title TBC) Presenter


Devey campaigns for various charities including Carers Trust, of which she became vice-president in 2012. She donates to charity one penny for each pallet distributed by the Pall-Ex network through her 'Penny a Pallet' scheme.[11] She also supports the Stroke Association, for which she became a patron in 2010.

Personal life[edit]

Devey previously resided near Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire, England, but has now relocated to Boylestone in Derbyshire. She also has a house in London and villas in Morocco, Spain and Boca Raton. For a time she owned a mansion in Florida, which she sold in 2014 for £5.42m.[12] She has been divorced twice and has stated publicly that her son is a former heroin and crack cocaine[13] addict.[citation needed] Devey owns four dogs, including Mixie and Dixie, her teacup yorkies who have appeared with her in the press and on TV.

She suffered a stroke in 2009 after having an abdominoplasty operation.[14]

She is a Bolton Wanderers supporter.[15]

On 28 October 2012 she spoke on BBC Radio 4 about her family sorrow.[16] Her mother found out, only years after getting together with her father, that he already had a wife and four children. Years later, history repeated itself when she herself discovered that her ex-partner was also already married with five children.


Devey was awarded the Vitalise Woman of the Year Award in 2008,[17] and an Honorary Doctorate of Law by the University of Leicester in 2010 for her services to industry.[18] Other UK domestic awards have included the Sir Robert Lawrence Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in 2009 and the Personality of the Year in the International Freight Weekly Awards for 2010.

In July 2012 Devey was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration by the University of Bolton for services to business.

Devey was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), in the 2013 Birthday Honours, for services to the transport industry and charity.[19][20]

On 16 April 2014, Devey was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Business Administration from the University of Wolverhampton.[21]



  1. ^ Hilary Devey at UKPreneur.co.uk
  2. ^ Hilary Devey (2012). Bold As Brass: My Story. Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-76593-1. 
  3. ^ How I made my first million: Why Hilary Devy's [sic] success came at huge personal cost, Daily Mail.
  4. ^ Radio Times, 30 July–5 August 2011
  5. ^ James Hurley, Hilary Devey replaces James Caan on Dragon's Den, Daily Telegraph. 31 July 2011.
  6. ^ "Hilary Devey's Women at the Top" at bbc.co.uk
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ [2]
  9. ^ [3]
  10. ^ [4]
  11. ^ Moya, Elena (22 October 2010). "Can Hilary Devey drive a truck? The Pall-Ex founder can certainly drive a freight revolution". The Guardian (UK) (London). Retrieved 26 January 2011. 
  12. ^ Cumming, Ed (3 April 2014). "Dragon's Den: Hilary Devey's Florida mansion for sale". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  13. ^ The Hilary Devey Story, BBC 2, 29 December 2011
  14. ^ TV star Hilary Devey: How a little fib about my lifestyle nearly killed me | Mail Online
  15. ^ Whites fans are feeling pressure "Whites fans are feeling pressure" at theboltonnews.co.uk
  16. ^ "Hilary Devey on Radio 4 Desert Island Discs". BBC. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  17. ^ "Secret Millionaire Hilary Devey wins the prestigious Vitalise Businesswoman of the Year award 2008". Ukpreneur. Retrieved 26 January 2011. 
  18. ^ "Honorary degrees, July 2010: no.1 Hilary Devey". University of Leicester. Retrieved 26 January 2011. 
  19. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60534. p. 7. 15 June 2013.
  20. ^ "Birthday Honours: Adele joins Blackadder stars on list". BBC News. 14 June 2013. 
  21. ^ University of Wolverhampton. "Honorary Degree of Doctor of Business Administration". University of Wolverhampton. 
  22. ^ "Bold As Brass: My Story" at panmacmillan.com

External links[edit]