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Who is Dragons’ Den’s Touker Suleyman?

He is the owner of the retail brands Hawes & Curtis and Ghost. Hawes & Curtis and Ghost are owned by tycoons with millionaire status. Here are 9 things you need to know about the successful Cyprian fashion mogul

From Series 13 – ongoing, 2015 – present
Invested in: 4 as of Series 13
Invested most: £100,000 as of Series 13
Among the most successful investments on the show: Liquiproof as of Series 13

As one of three new dragons joining the BBC’s popular Dragons’ Den show’s 13th series, touker suleyman is a well-known fashion entrepreneur and global manufacturer. But what is the story behind the Hawes & Curtis shirt brand?

A few of his investments have been in food and crafts, such as the gourmet-flavored chocolate brownie business Bad Brownies, in which he invested £60,000 in, and wooden mechanical kit company Timberkits (£25,000).

To date, he has invested £100,000 in Liquiproof for a 50% stake, making it his largest investment so far. In the Startups 100 index for two consecutive years, Liquiproof has developed a waterproof coating for footwear, hats, and clothing that is non-toxic and non-hazardous. Its founder Caner Veli has secured listings with hundreds of stores including Urban Outfitters and Office Max since its launch in January 2014.

A 40-year veteran of the retail industry with ties to the Beckhams and an investment portfolio stacked with budding young startups, Startups looks at Suleyman’s business background.

The Dragon’s Den was touker suleyman first-ever appearance on television, so we compiled these nine essential facts to help you get to know him better…

1. Business failures have been a part of his career

A business failure such as Suleyman’s serves as an inspiration to other entrepreneurs. As part of an investment strategy in the 1980s, he invested in Mellins, a clothing company; then, stockbrokers Laing & Cruickshank advised him to purchase a major stake in Bamber Stores, another clothing company. As a result, he failed to perform any due diligence or research into Bamber’s financials and later discovered the company was £20m in the hole.

When Bamber went into liquidation, Suleyman was left among the creditors. While Mellins needed a cash injection, Suleyman struck a $2m deal with shamed Polly Peck businessman Asil Nadir to address cash flow problems, but the deal never materialized. As a result of his resignation and the forced sale of his house, touker suleyman resigned. Despite being financially wiped out and devastated, Suleyman was “determined not to let these challenges get the better of him”, and so he began again.

2. Having worked in retail and manufacturing, he has an impressive resume

In the retail and manufacturing industries, Suleyman has over 40 years of experience. As a youngster, touker suleyman bought clothes for the grandmother of his childhood so she could sell them on to others. He established Kingsland Models in 1976, at the age of 18. Marks & Spencer, Topshop, and Dorothy Perkins were among the companies that produced clothes for the company. They decided to venture into the fashion business properly in 2004 with their brother Mustafa.

3. A few start-ups have already been invested in by him

The entrepreneur has already invested in a number of UK start-ups, including deck shoe company Docks Rio, leather handbag specialist Huxley and Cox, bicycle marketplace Bike Soup, and marketing and advertising firm Intelligent Futures. In the Den, he is likely to be attracted to pitches about retail and property.

4. His background is migrant

After the armed struggle for Northern Cyprus’ independence began in 1955, Suleyman left Northern Cyprus with his family when he was just five years old. “Living in modest circumstances”, Suleyman’s family moved to Camberwell where he enrolled in secondary school “not knowing much English” but went on to achieve eight O-Levels. After 50 years, touker suleyman has become a multi-millionaire fashion tycoon.

5. Two businesses have been rescued from administration by him

In 2004, Suleyman and his brother bought Hawes & Curtis for $1, which they have turned into a luxury brand with a turnover exceeding £21 million. Hawes & Curtis was about to go into administration with £500,000 debt and no stock when the duo decided to “rescue” the company, and their decision paid off handsomely. Suleyman rescued womenswear retailer Ghost from administration four years later and relaunched the brand as a heritage brand in 2012.

6. International trade experience is one of his strengths

It is alleged that Suleyman agreed to a £3.2 million deal with Korath Holding in 2013 to franchise Hawes & Curtis across the Middle East, with 26 stores opening in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates. Since then, he has focused on growing the Hawes & Curtis brand in the US and expanding the franchise model to Indonesia and other parts of Asia. As the owner of Low Profile Holdings, he will be able to open doors to businesses seeking to expand overseas through factories in Turkey, Bulgaria, and Georgia.

7. As an accountant, he began his career

His father had urged him to join a “stable profession” after school, so touker suleyman joined an accountancy firm straight from school as a trainee. As a fashion magnate, he is likely to have a good grasp of the numbers side of the business, even though he left to pursue his retail career.

8. David Beckham rents out his home to him

The ‘James Bond-style home he owns in South London is rented out to A-list celebrities on a regular basis. National press coverage was garnered when David and Victoria Beckham and their children stayed at the property in 2013.

9. Responsible business is important to him

In addition to being a mentor for the Prince’s Trust and an ambassador for WellChild and the Retail Trust, touker suleyman also serves as a spokesperson for the Prince’s Trust. Besides supporting young entrepreneurs, he also enjoys finding ways to help them succeed.


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