A successful Turkish Cypriot businessman is among three new Dragons entering the Den for series 13, the BBC announced on Tuesday.
Retail king Touker Suleyman, whose business portfolio includes fashion brands Hawes & Curtis and Ghost, joins Moonpig.com founder Nick Jenkins and Sarah Willingham, creator of restaurant chain The Bombay Bicycle Club and existing Dragons Peter Jones and Deborah Meaden in the successful TV show where budding entrepreneurs enter the Den to pitch their business ideas to the multi-millionaire Dragons willing to invest their own cash.
Originally from northern Cyprus, Touker Suleyman has 40 years’ retail and manufacturing experience and is best known as the founder of quintessentially British menswear brand, Hawes & Curtis and the man credited with reinventing the seminal 90s womenswear label, Ghost.
After a false start in accountancy, Touker kicked off his retail career at the age of 18. He entered into a joint venture in a leather factory and soon after established a clothing manufacturer supplying to some of the biggest names of the British high street.
Touker’s rise in the business world has not been without its challenge. In the 1980s auditors identified significant debt behind one of his business ventures and he had six weeks to find £2 million pounds. Unfortunately a potential investor pulled out at the last minute, forcing the business into liquidation, and he was forced to start again from nothing.
Touker went on to build a thriving international clothing manufacturing business, which still sits at the heart of his commercial interests. He is now a serial entrepreneur, backing seven retail and commercial property businesses. Touker has a keen interest in supporting start-ups and invests in a number of small British companies.
Touker told the BBC: “It is a privilege to join the panel of Dragons’ Den and support the next generation of UK entrepreneurs. Dreams and big ideas are plentiful, but few people have the courage to realise their ambitions. I want to support those people with the guts to pursue their dreams and provide the financial backing, opportunities and support that will ease their path to success.”
“I am a long-standing fan of the show and would have loved to have the opportunity to stand before the Dragons in my early days. I know precisely what it takes to become a business success and I will certainly draw upon my own experiences when considering whether to invest. I can’t wait to get started and look forward to initiating new business partnerships over the coming months”’
Dragons’ Den has been running for ten years, with nearly £15 million pounds worth of investment offered by the Dragons who have graced the iconic chairs. Filming for the new series begins next week and the show will return to BBC Two later in the year.