Dragons’ Den returns to our screens at the start of the New Year with a brand new series of entrepreneurs vying for investment from five business ‘dragons’. The first episode will be broadcast on BBC 1 at 8pm on Thursday, 5 January 2023.
There are no changes to the line-up of dragons for series 20, which includes British Turkish Cypriot fashion magnate Touker Suleyman, who has featured on the hit BBC show since 2015. The other four dragons are Peter Jones, Deborah Meaden, and Sara Davies and Steve Bartlett.
Based on a Japanese show, the UK equivalent, Dragons’ Den, premiered in 2005. Presented by Evan Davis, the show gives entrepreneurs the chance to pitch their business idea to a panel of investors.
Initially the business reality TV show was televised on BBC Two, and after six successful series, the programme moved over to BBC One.
About Touker Suleyman
Originally from Gazimağusa/Famagusta, Touker Suleyman, 69, has 40 years’ retail and manufacturing experience. His company Low Profile Holdings has factories abroad, including in Turkiye, and is behind top fashion brands such as shirtmaker Hawes & Curtis, and womenswear Ghost.
Touker’s family moved to England in 1958, when he was just five years old, settling in Bermondsey, South London. His dad wanted him to enter a secure profession, so he joined a central London accountancy practice as an articled clerk doing the accounts for small businesses. Although informative, he told the FT in 2017 that he found the job “quite boring”.
His introduction to the fashion business came by way of his grandmother, for whom he would buy crimplene material and garments that she would sell to her circle.
After a year of this basic level of trading, Touker decided to into a partnership with an East London manufacturer, before setting up Kingsland Models, supplying clothing to leading British high street retailers, such as C&A, Dorothy Perkins and Top Shop.
His rise in the business world has not been without challenges and setbacks. In the 1980s, auditors identified significant debt behind one of his newly acquired business ventures, Bamber Stores, and he had six weeks to find £2 million pounds.
Unfortunately, when a potential rescue package failed because the investor (Asil Nadir) pulled out at the last minute, Bamber Stores was forced into liquidation, causing a domino effect on Touker’s other business interests. He was then forced to sell his house to pay off debts to the bank.
Undaunted, the entrepreneur started up again from nothing, going on to build a thriving international clothing manufacturer, which still sits at the heart of his businesses.
Today multi-millionaire Touker is a serial entrepreneur, whose commercial interests straddle retail and property. He also takes a keen interest in supporting start-ups and invests in a number of small British companies.
Touker joined Dragons’ Den for the show’s thirteenth series, which aired in 2015. To date, he has invested close to £2 million in the Den. His investments include:
- Beamblock Yogo (S13 joint investment with Peter, yogo workout equipment)
- Timberkits (S13, hand crafted wooden toys)
- Bad Brownie (S13, luxury brownie company)
- Collagin (S16, collagen infused gin)
- Let’s Sanitise (S19, joint investment with Peter, sanitiser products)
Main picture, top, of Touker Suleyman on Dragons’ Den, S20, Ep2, Jan 2023. Credit: BBC / Grab