Sarah Willingham

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Sarah Willingham
Sarah Willingham plenary 2.jpg
Born (1973-12-21) 21 December 1973 (age 41)
Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire, UK
Nationality British
Alma mater Cranfield University, Oxford Brookes University, École supérieure de commerce de la rochelle
Occupation Business entrepreneur, investor and personal finance expert
Television The Restaurant
Dragons' Den
Spouse(s) Michael Willingham-Toxvaerd (m. 2008)
Children 4
Website Official website

Sarah Willingham (born 21 December 1973) is a British entrepreneur, investor and personal finance expert best known for her appearances on the BBC Two television series Dragons' Den since 2015.


Management Today[1] and The Sunday Times acknowledged her as one of the "35 most successful women under 35" in the UK. In 2007 she was voted one of the "Courvoisier Top 500" [2] and American Express "Spokesperson for Small Business Saturday 2013".[3]

Having spent the early years of her career managing some of the biggest household names in restaurants[4]Planet Hollywood and Pizza Express – Willingham decided to go it alone. In partnership with The Clapham House Group, she bought The Bombay Bicycle Club in 2004,[5] and turned a loss making chain of 6 restaurants into a profitable chain of 17 restaurants, making it Britain's largest Indian restaurant chain.[6] Willingham sold her share back to The Clapham House Group in 2007[7] where she continued as a main board director responsible for three of their four brands – Tootsies, The Real Greek and The Bombay Bicycle Club; over 50 restaurants and more than 1,500 employees.[7]

In 2004, Willingham co-established an AIM-listed company, Neutrahealth plc,[8] which acquired six businesses in the vitamin and mineral supplements industry and was sold to Indian company Elder Pharmaceuticals Ltd in 2011.[9]

In April 2008, she helped co-establish a private equity platform in the UK.[10]

In 2010, Willingham invested in the London Cocktail Club ([11] with Raymond Blanc, JJ Goodman, David Moore and James Hopkins.[12] The first cocktail bar opened in 2011 on Goodge Street, London.[13] In February 2012 the London Cocktail Club added their second cocktail bar on Shaftsbury Avenue, London and their latest bar opened in Great Portland Street, London in 2013.[14]

In July 2012, Willingham launched a money-saving website called,[15] which aims to help people take control of their time and be smart with their money, encouraging users to take action through one-minute guides to various aspects of money saving.[16]

Being a former owner of the Bombay Bicycle Club restaurant chain, she is recognised as an entrepreneur specialising in high street restaurants, hence her appearance as a restaurant inspector and investor on all three series of Raymond Blanc's The Restaurant and as an independent investor on the Sky TV series Cooks to Market.[17][18]

She has two business degrees from Oxford Brookes University[19] and the École supérieure de commerce de la rochelle business school in France. In 2004 she completed a MBA from the Cranfield University School of Management. Sarah has regularly appeared on various TV and radio programmes, including Daybreak, This Morning, The Wright Stuff and Sky News, as a personal finance expert commenting on both personal finance and consumer affairs.

Dragons' Den[edit]

Main article: Dragons' Den

In March 2015, Willingham was named as one of the new "Dragons" on the BBC television programme Dragons' Den from the thirteenth series which began airing in July 2015.[20] She will also appear in the upcoming fourteenth series to air in 2016.

Dragons' Den investments
  • Vitiliglow – £40,000 for 40% of the business
  • Sublime Science – £50,000 for 10% of the business (joint investment with Nick Jenkins)

Personal life[edit]

Willingham and her husband Michael live in the countryside outside London with their four children.[21] She is one of the youngest entrepreneurs in the high street food and leisure industry.[4]


  1. ^ Emma De Vita (1 July 2007). "MT's 35 Women Under 35 2007: Bright young things - Management Today". Retrieved 16 May 2015. 
  2. ^ "CVTF500 member list". the Guardian. Retrieved 16 May 2015. 
  3. ^ "Small Business Saturday: Call to spend more in your High Street's independents - This is Money". This is Money. Retrieved 16 May 2015. 
  4. ^ a b "BBC - The Restaurant - The Inspectors". Retrieved 16 May 2015. 
  5. ^ "Clapham House Grp - Acquisition - FE InvestEgate". Retrieved 16 May 2015. 
  6. ^ "Sarah Willingham: People need to change the way they eat". 11 October 2008. Retrieved 16 May 2015. 
  7. ^ a b "FE Investegate -Clapham House Grp Announcements - Clapham House Grp: Trading Update and Placing". Retrieved 16 May 2015. 
  8. ^ "FE Investegate -AIM Announcements - AIM: Sch 1 - NeutraHealth plc". Retrieved 16 May 2015. 
  9. ^ "NeutraHealth bought by Elder". Retrieved 16 May 2015. 
  10. ^ "Interview: Chain reaction". Financial Times. Retrieved 16 May 2015. 
  11. ^ "London Cocktail Club - A Serious Drinkers Party Bar". London Cocktail Club. Retrieved 16 May 2015. 
  12. ^ "A Drink With… JJ Goodman, London Cocktail Club". 
  13. ^ "London Cocktail Club". Time Out London. 
  14. ^ "Oxford Circus - London Cocktail Club". London Cocktail Club. Retrieved 16 May 2015. 
  15. ^ "Let's Save Money - Control your time and be smart with your money". Let's Save Money. Retrieved 16 May 2015. 
  16. ^ "Let's Save Money - About Us". Let's Save Money. Retrieved 16 May 2015. 
  17. ^ "Sky Living HD". Find and Watch. Retrieved 16 May 2015. 
  18. ^ Willingham, Sarah (16 August 2012). "Kitchen commerce for Sky Living HD this September". Retrieved 16 May 2015. 
  19. ^ Willingham, Sarah. "Alumna returns to BBC Two for third series of The Restaurant". Retrieved 16 May 2015. (registration required (help)). 
  20. ^ "BBC - Three new Dragons enter The Den for Series 13 - Media Centre". Retrieved 16 May 2015. 
  21. ^ "Meet the new Dragon: mum-trepreneur Sarah Willingham". 13 April 2015. 

External links[edit]