Harold Tillman

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Harold Tillman
Harold Tillman.jpg
Born 15 October 1945
Education Balham County Grammar School, London College of Fashion
Occupation Businessman
Spouse(s) Stephanie
Children Mitchell, Meredith

Harold Tillman CBE (born 15 October 1945[1] is an English retail entrepreneur and investor. He was formerly head of Jaeger and Aquascutum.[2] Until September 2012, Tillman was chair of the British Fashion Council.[3][4] He is current chair of Fashion Matters, London College of Fashion's fundraising committee and is also a trustee of the V&A.[5]

Early life[edit]

Tillman was born into a Jewish family and grew up in south London.[6][7] He was the only child of a Yorkshire-born tailor father who trained at Montague Burton's, and a milliner mother.[2][8] As his father's business developed, the family moved to Streatham and then Wimbledon, where Tillman went to Balham County Grammar School.[9]


As his father had been injured in World War II and suffered poor health, Tillman ran the whole family business for extended periods. He left school at 15 to study to be an accountant, before becoming one of the first male students at the London College of Fashion in 1962.[9][10]

Aged 19, on graduation in 1965 he became an apprentice at Lincroft Kilgour in Savile Row, becoming its managing director three years later. Aged 24 he floated Lincroft's on the London Stock Exchange. Tillman developed a business plan based around good design, employing a young Paul Smith; and celebrity, using George Best to promote Lincroft's clothes.[9]

Selling out of Lincroft's a multi-millionaire at age 30, he took a tour and brought the concept of the New York City cocktail bar to London, opening Rumours in Covent Garden.[9]


Tillman returned to the world of fashion through the purchase of Honorbilt from Austin Reed. With a similar plan to Lincroft's, he floated the organisation on the FTSE. He then used this money to buy two organisations in Hong Kong and California, but the core group was financially unsound, and as Tillman negotiated the expansion the management he left in charge failed to stem the developing crisis. After Honorbilt was refused further bank funding, the board were forced to call in the receiver. The Department of Trade and Industry sent inspectors, who proposed to ban Tillman for life as a director, which he negotiated to a three-year bar:[9] Speaking of the experience, he said: "I was virtually wiped out financially. I kept my house by my fingernails. But it taught me a valuable lesson. Now I keep in close touch with everything I do, and if I buy anything I always do due diligence".[9]

2000 onwards[edit]

Tillman rebuilt his fortune through buying and selling UK Yves Saint Laurent distributor Marchpole, then leading the buy out of BMB, a suits wholesaler that supplies Debenhams, Bhs and other retail chains, from William Baird.[11][12]

Tillman returned to prominence with the 2002 majority investment in loss-making Jaeger, which he acquired from Richard Thompson. Tillman teamed up with Belinda Earl. After buying Allders, a large department store in Croydon in 2005,[13] in 2009 the team bought Aquascutum.[14][9] On 16 April 2012 it was announced that Tillman had sold Jaeger to Jon Moulton's Better Capital for just under £20m with a "substantial majority" used to settle its debts. Tillman retains 10% of the shares. The following day it was announced that Aquascutum had gone into administration.

Tillman retains interests in restaurants, including First Restaurant Group – which includes The Waterway and The Clerk & Well – created with his son Mitchell Tillman.[15][16]

Tillman was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to the fashion industry in the 2010 Birthday Honours.[17]

Charity and community[edit]

In 2006, Tillman set up a scholarship at LCF, pledging £1 million to sponsor 10 MA students each year.[10] He sits on the board of the Fashion Enterprise Forum, which raises cash for young industry entrepreneurs. Tillman had a five-year spell as chair of the British Fashion Council, a role he took over from Sir Stuart Rose.[18] Tillman is chairman of the Alumni Board for the University of the Arts London.[19]

Personal life[edit]

Tillman and his wife of 40 years Stephanie live in Highgate, North London, and have a holiday home in Marbella, Spain.[12] The couple have two adult children, Mitchell and Meredith.[9]


  1. ^ Harold Tillman. "Harold Peter Tillman". Debretts People of Today. Retrieved 14 April 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Staff (2012). "The Jaeger Meister". Covent Garden Journal. Retrieved 15 April 2014. 
  3. ^ Amed, Imran (18 September 2009). "CEO Talk | Harold Tillman, Chairman, The British Fashion Council". The Business of Fashion. Retrieved 14 April 2014. 
  4. ^ Gonsalves, Rebecca (19 September 2012). "Harold Tillman passes British Fashion Council baton to Natalie Massenet as London fashion week draws to a close". The Independent. Retrieved 14 April 2014. 
  5. ^ Karmali, Sarah (7 May 2013). "Harold Tillman to chair LCF fundraising committee". Vogue. Retrieved 15 April 2014. 
  6. ^ Thakur, Monami (27 November 2011). "BFC chairman Harold Tillman awarded CBE". International Business Times. Retrieved 15 April 2014. 
  7. ^ Salmon, James (5 March 2014). "Interview: Harold Tillman fights to restore his name after the collaps of Jaeger and Aquascutum". Daily Mail. Retrieved 14 April 2014. 
  8. ^ "The Andrew Davidson Interview: Fashion's dandy plots bounce-back at Jaeger – Page1". London: The Sunday Times. 18 January 2004. Retrieved 23 September 2009. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Blackhurst, Chris (9 September 2009). "Interview: Rag trade veteran whose aim is to spruce up Aquascutum". This is London. Retrieved 23 September 2009. 
  10. ^ a b "Harold Tillman". University of the Arts. Retrieved 23 September 2009. 
  11. ^ Holland, Tiffany (27 April 2012). "Profile: Harold Tillman, Jaeger chairman". Retail Week. Retrieved 15 April 2014. 
  12. ^ a b "The Andrew Davidson Interview: Fashion's dandy plots bounce-back at Jaeger – Page2". London: The Sunday Times. 18 January 2004. Retrieved 23 September 2009. 
  13. ^ Murray-Watson, Andrew (6 May 2007). "Harold Tillman: the best dressed man on the High Street". London: This Independent. Retrieved 23 September 2009. 
  14. ^ "Jaeger boss Harold Tillman buys Aquascutum". Jewish Chronicle. 8 September 2009. Retrieved 23 September 2009. 
  15. ^ Krieger, Candice (3 November 2011). "Tillman serves up food empire". Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 15 April 2014. 
  16. ^ Wingett, Mark (17 July 2013). "First Restaurant Group in private equity talks about Harry Morgan expansion". Big Hospitality. Retrieved 15 April 2014. 
  17. ^ "No. 59446". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 2010. p. 8. 
  18. ^ "Fashion Photographer of the Year". Clothes Show London. 
  19. ^ "Harold Tillman". Drapers Online. 26 September 2008. Retrieved 23 September 2009. 

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