Hilary Devey hit our screens as the new Dragon in the Den last month – and she's settling in nicely.
Over the past six weeks she's displayed her softer side (when nerves have got the better of otherwise well-prepared pitchers), but equally shown no mercy for those who turn up woefully underprepared, slaying them with some brilliant one-liners: "You would make my foot itch, mate", was a particular gem.
Her capacity for compassion combined with a refusal to suffer fools has clearly struck a chord with viewers – her Twitter account now stands 27,994 followers-strong and counting.
So what's her story? How did she make her millions and what experiences have shaped her approach to investment? Here are 10 things you may not know about Hilary Devey...
- She had made at least two angel investments before entering the Den. According to her website, www.hilarydevey.com, Devey has backed delivery business PRONTO Sameday Couriers and table centrepieces company WOW Table Art, which provides remote controlled lighting furniture for events.
- Devey has faced more adversity than most. After the banks turned her down, she sold her house and downgraded her car to set up Pall-Ex. She also offered equity to colleagues in return for funding, but was rebuffed. She puts much of her drive for building the business down to her then-teenage son’s heroin addiction, which he came off around six years ago.
- Pall-Ex was launched in November 1996, with a mere 117 pallets distributed. The company regularly delivers more than 10,000 pallets a night now. Her business background was in distribution, first for Littlewoods, the Tibbet and Britten, Scorpio (now part of the United Carrier network), and seven years at TNT.
- Her company now delivers to 38 European countries every day.
- She is estimated to be worth more than £100m. 250-employee Pall-Ex boasts a turnover of around £100m with £3m profits. Devey is the only shareholder.
- When she appeared on The Secret Millionaire in 2008 she donated £136,000 to a hospice and community centre in the Manchester area.
- She also appeared on Channel Five’s The Business Inspector, trouble-shooting problems for struggling small businesses. Her media profile has been building gradually and her Twitter account, where she had less than 500 followers on the day the news about Dragons’ Den broke, now boasts more than 27,994 followers.
- Devey owns £2.5m mansion Rangemore Hall in Staffordshire.
- She is considering a public market flotation of Pall-Ex in the near future with the company estimated to be worth £150m to £200m. She is also planning to write a book detailing her business life.
- Devey became the first woman to be awarded the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport’s Sir Robert Lawrence award in 2009.