Born in Scholes, Wigan, Lenagan attended St Patrick's Primary School as a child and gained an appreciation for rugby league, playing for the local amateur club also named St Patrick's.
He was educated at West Park Grammar School in St Helens before eventually moving onto university. Lenagan attended both Manchester and Liverpool universities and graduated with a BSc in Mathematics and a MSc in Magnetohydrodynamics respectively.
In 1985 Lenagan set up his own business, Workplace Systems, in Milton Keynes. The company, which develops and supplies software products for workforce management, his first successful contract was with Asda, his business became very successful and expanded abroad to places across Europe, Australasia, the USA and the Middle East. Major retailers that are now known to use Workplace Systems include Argos, Focus, Sports Café, Next and Morrisons. With the success of Workplace Systems the company was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2000 under the name Telework Systems PLC to incorporate another company founded by Lenagan in 1981, TeleWare, which focused on the telephony software products market.
A decline in the telephone market saw TeleWare sold off to its management in 2003 and the company change its name to WorkPlace Systems International plc, 49% owned by Ian Lenagan.
In December 2011, Workplace Systems was acquired by a Lloyds Banking Group backed management buyout and Lenagan stepped down from his role as Chairman, receiving £19m from the buyout.
Rugby league and football clubs
Lenagan is a huge rugby league fan. His successful business ventures have allowed him to become involved in the sport and in July 2005 he took over as Chairman and majority shareholder of Harlequins Rugby League, buying 65% of the shares and also taking a place on the board of directors. He also became a major shareholder in Oxford United, who were controlled by long-time friend Nick Merry. In July 2012 he replaced Kelvin Thomas as chairman of the League Two club.
It was announced after months of speculation that Lenagan would become the new owner of Wigan Warriors rugby league club, his boyhood team. Lenagan bought the club from former JJB Sports magnate and Wigan Athletic chairman Dave Whelan. As well as buying the club Lenagan also bought the training facilities at Edge Hall Road, the former stadium of Orrell R.U.F.C. as well as a 50-year lease on the JJB Stadium.
Lenagan's first signings for Wigan were George Carmont and Richie Mathers both from the NRL and Karl Pryce who returned to Rugby League from Rugby Union club Gloucester. Lenagan also signed-up Cameron Phelps and Tim Smith, for the Wigan club, during the 2008 season.
Lenagan is also the non-executive Chairman and 1% owner of the Sports Café, an expanding chain of sports bars and restaurants. Lenagan has recently started a new business called Animalates, a children's educational exercise club which is expected to be sold as a franchise.
- "Factfile - Ian Lenagan". Wigan Warriors official website. 2007-10-24. Retrieved 2007-10-25.[dead link]
- "Company Profile - Workplace International PLC". Workplace Systems International. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2007-10-25.
- "Oxford United chairman Kelvin Thomas to leave role". BBC Sport. 13 July 2012. Retrieved 20 July 2013.
- "Warriors Look to Future Under New Ownership". Wigan Warriors official website. 2007-10-24. Retrieved 2007-10-25.[dead link]