An insightful documentary charting the business career of Hilary Devey, the newest star of Dragons' Den, explaining how and why she achieved the success that she has.
Browse content similar to The Hilary Devey Story. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
Hilary Devey, multi-millionaire businesswoman...
I've said we're number one, so we will be.
-Fine them, they won't do it again.
..and the newest Dragon in the Den.
But how did a girl from Bolton become the queen of logistics
and take up residency in one of those iconic seats?
Tonight we find out.
I own 100% of this business.
The reason this has gone as far as it's gone,
is because I have been at liberty to say, "Yes, we're doing it."
With unprecedented access to her life outside the Den...
I certainly don't measure my success by this.
This is just concrete.
..We'll find how this Dragon really does business.
'I'd love to take it a step further. It has something I can snuggle up in.'
If he wants exclusivity, then I want something back.
Where the success has come at a cost.
My son, I must have been blind, did turn to hard drugs.
And what happened to make her the woman she is today.
Even though the house was a tiny little terrace,
it was very nice and very well furnished.
Until the day the bailiffs walked in and took everything away.
This year saw a vacancy arise for a multi-millionaire
fierce enough to join and compete
with a long-established Dragon line-up. Step forward, Hilary Devey.
The first morning when I was travelling to the Den
I was thinking, "Oh, my God, what have I done? What have I done?"
I had to say to the driver, "Pull over, I've got to be sick."
She looked like somebody that was completely thrown into the deep end.
I wasn't even sure, did she really want to be there? She looked scared.
I was really, really nervous, initially.
But I guess I then thought, "Ah hell, Hils, you know, I'm as good as them.
"I'm damn used to hard work." So, I thought, "Just go for it, Hils!"
I can't wait. I'm waiting for this to come on with the right product and the right person.
I'd like to make you an offer.
She showed a remarkable ability really, just to settle into that chair.
Made quite clear she was in command of the situation.
She wasn't going to take nonsense. She wasn't going to defer
to the others because they had more experience,
why should she?
Forget the Maruishi experience. We're on Planet Earth in Dragon's Den.
She was brave.
She didn't kind of slowly creep in to the Den. "I'm here!"
How ridiculous of you to come and stand here and pitch to investors
when you haven't got that information,
because, by God, man, it's your job to have that information.
that to become a Dragon,
you've got to be rich, you've got to be powerful.
I'd like to know what you want from a Dragon.
-Then I want to tell you what I can give you.
I say you're born a Dragon.
Hilary was born a Dragon.
When that beast is hungry, it wants feeding.
It's late November, and Hilary's 20-acre logistics empire
has its headquarters here in Leicestershire, just off the M1.
I own 100% of this business.
The reason this business has gone as far as it's gone
in so short a time as it's gone, is because I have been at liberty to say,
"Yes, we're doing it. We're doing it now."
She is an extremely demanding person
to work with, as you would expect.
At times, that can be bloody frustrating.
'We have our moments. We still have our arguments.'
Basically, we argue until I agree with her.
-It's as simple as that.
The biggest fault I've got
is I'm a perfectionist.
Some dirty trailers coming in here now.
We'll get network on that.
'I know I drive them insane. I drive the membership insane.
'I pick at them.'
If I see a dirty vehicle on the motorway, I take the reg down and phone them the next day
and say, "That was absolutely filthy."
"It's been out, it's been on a trip. It's got dirty. It rained. It was muddy."
Well, that's no excuse, because I am an absolute perfectionist.
And it's that perfectionist streak that has grown her business
to turnover a reported £100 million a year
based on a remarkably simple business model.
Instead of criss-crossing the country delivering pallets full of goods to each other,
her membership of nearly 100 independent haulage companies,
now have just two journeys to make.
From their base to Hilary's hub
and back again.
One full load dropping off, one full load heading home.
And the end of costly empty trucks travelling our motorways.
I wasn't the first with this concept.
I wasn't the first either to have developed a hauliers membership network.
But what I can say, and what I'm very proud of,
is that I made a lot of changes to the original model and I've done very, very well with it.
This is it, this is where Pall-Ex began.
15 years ago, Hilary's vision for the future of pallet-based goods
was housed here in the East Midland village of Wymeswold.
I mean, now today, it looks quite swish, compared to how it did look.
I remember the very first time coming to look at this hangar,
and glancing over to my left, there was all these rats playing.
I thought, "Oh, my God, I'm going to be living with rats."
Now, an experienced company race track.
Then, an old aircraft hangar waiting for a new owner.
Hauliers were notoriously antiquated in their methodology of moving goods around the country.
"This is how we do it. We'll never do it any other way."
There was absolutely no collaboration between hauliers at all.
I thought, "This is ridiculous."
29th November 1996,
that first night of operation
followed driving thousands and thousands of miles,
selling this concept to hauliers.
They were sceptical anyway. "Can you drive a truck, love?"
"Well, no, I can't, but I can run your business better than you can."
So, really, what I was doing was selling all my lovely hauliers a dream.
One man who bought into the dream early on,
was, at the time, an established operations director for a Yorkshire haulier, Adrian Russell.
Hilary managed to prize him away to join her fledgling management dream.
We'd been working together on and off for years.
And she'd talked about the palletised freight network
as being something that she totally believed in.
She saw the potential. There's something about Hilary.
She's an incredible sales person.
I think that's part of the power of persuasion that she has, which is why I joined her.
She sold me, and the original members of Pall-Ex, the vision.
When she secured the members, she hadn't even secured the warehouse.
So she'd got an empty hand in some respect.
But, um, sheer determination.
All I could think of this place is the cold that seeped into your bones
and constantly wanting a wee but constantly not having one,
because there was no way I was sharing two chemical loos
with 50 or 60 guys because, you know,
they might be able to throw a dart at a dartboard from ten feet away,
but get them in a toilet cubicle and they can't aim from bloody three inches away, can they?
So, there is no way that I was ever going to sit on them pee-ridden seats.
It's a male-dominated world and I was this mere female
that had dared to intrude on their world
and tell them what they was doing wrong and what they could,
if they did it in a different way, how much more money they could make.
If I'd have said it, um,
I think the place would have been awash with testosterone and blood.
-But these guys accepted it from you, didn't they?
It just goes to show that a manicured fist can go through a glass ceiling
quite as easily as a builder's one or, in this case, the HGV driver.
Like other businesses who now run similar models,
Hilary needed to ensure she had a big enough volume of goods in her warehouse hub,
that would make haulage companies find it worthwhile to pay her both a membership fee, and a payment
for each individual pallet that they dropped off or picked up.
It was not the easiest sell to an industry
notorious for its small margins.
I owe an awful lot to the members of this business
who are hauliers who work damn hard for very low margins -
incredibly long hours in an incredibly hard industry.
It is like a family atmosphere.
And that's where the loyalty comes from. Where Hilary expects it
and we give it and vice versa. And it works. You are part of a family.
It's enabled us to become successful in our own right
as a small company, many years ago,
15 years ago, when we first set the business up.
We've become successful because of Pall-Ex. Pall-Ex has become successful
because of the quality of the members in the organisation.
Never heard of Hilary at all before we met her.
15 year ago. She walked into our lives -
Stalkers Transport - I can remember the day.
She basically straightaway started firing questions at Paul and I.
It was like meeting the Gestapo, really.
We used to be frightened to death of her. And still are.
No, we're not.
So, at that particular time, I didn't know a great lot about pallet organisations, pallet networks.
But, after having half an hour with Hilary, being battered to death,
I understood all about pallet networks.
She was very persistent. But, unfortunately,
I'm one of those people who don't take fools lightly.
To be honest with you, I couldn't honestly believe
what she was telling me was reality.
I thought, to be honest, when she'd gone, with the greatest respect,
and I'll say it with respect, "Thank God for that, she's gone."
Half an hour later, I came out of the meeting, and Gerald says to me, "How did you get on?"
I said, "Well, fantastic. I think I've joined a pallet network." And that's how it started.
In the end, Hilary convinced enough firms to join her
and today she runs one of the most successful businesses in the industry.
Earlier this year, she entered a totally new business environment.
She was the new Dragon. And that can have its drawbacks.
I guess I was an unknown quantity at that stage.
Nobody wanted little Hils, did they?
Nobody knew anything about me.
You know, "What's logistics?" The fact that the whole country would come to a standstill
and there'd be no manufacturing or retailing without logistics is...academic.
But two young mums from Clapham had no such concerns.
Andrea McDowell and Rebecca Baldwin entered the Den this year hoping for £60,000
of Dragon cash for 20% of their alternative wedding video venture.
We are the only wedding videography company
that hires out broadcast-quality video cameras to be given to friends and family before the wedding,
and then they each take it in turns to film the day.
We edit whatever they film into a professional wedding DVD.
We offer a one-camera package for £849
and a two-camera package for £949.
So, I'm going to play you a brief video, to show why our videos are different.
It's going really well.
-Where are the shirts?
-Tell everyone tomorrow.
'My brain was running all over with the concept.'
I just thought, "I can go places with these. I can do something with them."
I think it's a fantastic idea.
-Congratulations to you both.
I think you will go
very far, very fast.
I could think of hundreds of ideas to get you there - hundreds.
I got the sense with Shoot It Yourself that Hilary wanted it
in quite an impulsive way and was going to try and knock us all out of the game.
My game plan was I wanted it. And I thought, "Why prevaricate?"
I don't play poker.
I don't play poker in business either. If I want something,
if I want somebody's business, I tell them.
Without listening to what the other Dragons have got to say,
I'd like to make you an offer.
I will offer you the full amount for 26% of your business.
I didn't actually know what to do. My face said it all. Both of our faces. We just couldn't believe it.
Hilary thought, "Cut the messing around, let's just get on with it.
"Here's the money, 26%. Do you want to speak to the other Dragons?
"If you don't, fine, it's mine."
Hilary's tactics seemed to have won out,
and her rival Dragons chose not to compete.
But the young entrepreneurs were not finished yet.
Hilary, we did come in wanting to really give away
20% of our business. It's worth asking, isn't it? You have to ask.
I think it was really rubbish as well. I should have been like, "No way, we're holding out for 20%."
Like a big hard-nosed business woman.
I just went, "Would you like to give us 20? Please. Instead? No?"
No, because I think you need a lot of work.
Everyone goes to the back of the Den and goes, "What shall we do?"
-We didn't. We just did the, "Let's talk out the side of our mouth."
-Hilary, we'd like to accept your offer.
We... I can't just believe what we've just done.
We've just made a deal with a Dragon. I think we high fived.
-'We were so excited.'
'I didn't want to share the deal.
'I'm so pleased I wasn't put in that position.'
That was because I went in early. So, I think, on that occasion,
like I say, I'm very perceptive and I think I played my cards just right.
Six months on, and how are the duo getting on with their new business partner?
What Hilary can bring to the table, and what Hilary can do for our business, money can't buy.
She's given us marketing director, she's given us her financial director.
All our accounts are handled by her team now.
We're moving into bigger offices. We've got a PR agent, who handles all of our media.
Everything she can do, she is doing to help us.
So, with the deal signed, Andrea and Rebecca are pressing forward, expanding the business.
We're going into corporate videos, in-house promotional training videos.
Videos for websites, for small businesses. We're going into Asian weddings.
I think the most exciting thing at the moment is the school trips market.
Today, the duo are in Middlesex, meeting up with a school sports tour company
who are interested in buying in their service.
Right, girls, here's your camera. Who's going to take charge?
'I think the deal that's on the table with Sweet Chariot is going to be really, really interesting.'
They can offer us an in to all the schools.
They take 20,000 students away every single year on their school sports trips.
So this will be a great introduction to the schools through them about what we offer.
There are 30 girls here, playing lacrosse.
If each parent bought a DVD for 50 quid, you do the maths.
-Because you can't.
-Because I can't - actually.
So now we're going to show you some of the clips that you guys filmed, maybe give you some feedback.
With the trial complete, the afternoon looks to have been a success.
For us, it's about getting clips for the sports tours.
For you guys, it's about getting in with a school.
-And that's why I think you should be really excited about this.
Having secured the offer of a potentially lucrative business deal...
-How are you?
Andrea and Rebecca now need to run it by their Dragon backer.
The school sports travel company came to us and contacted us,
and said, "We'd really like to use your packages..."
-What have you done about that?
-We haven't taken it any further
because he wants an exclusivity arrangement.
-For how long?
-For a year.
Is he prepared to give a minimum?
-Well, he can't have his cake and eat it, can he?
-If you want exclusivity,
then I want something back.
And I want a minimum order or minimum revenue.
Because it's prohibiting you from going anywhere else.
How do you know? You might just get one trip.
And I think you've got to get a bit tough in commercial discussions with him.
I'm there to help if you need that.
Brilliant, thank you. We might need that, mightn't we?
With more detail to discuss before that particular deal gets signed,
their core business is going strong.
150 wedding videos already booked for next year.
But Hilary is determined not to put a limit on their ambition.
I think, even now, building the website isn't right.
Can you honestly sit here today and tell me you're confident about how your website should look
and what market you really, really want to target - which is going to be the most profitable market?
-Well, then, we shouldn't even be bothering with it.
-We need to do the research.
-Let's target the website to the most profitable market we want.
-And then add the others as ancillaries.
-Yeah, that's a really good idea, isn't it?
-Yeah, sounds like a plan.
'Hilary, in half an hour, has done what we wouldn't have been able to do in our whole lifetime.'
She's just whittled it down to what the actual problem is
and she's given us a conclusion and a solution to that problem as well.
The girls are hungry. They are.
And they're determined - by God, are they determined!
And so am I. You watch this space.
Hilary Devey was born in 1957,
here in the former mill town of Bolton in Greater Manchester.
Today, she's visiting the site of her childhood family home,
which was also the place where her dream of being her own boss was first forged.
I can't believe that was Raby Street.
I just can't believe it.
It's so different. It was nothing like this at all.
Back in the 70s, much of Bolton's terraced housing was deemed substandard.
The old Victorian back-to-backs made way for the promise
of a new future in modern council housing.
Hilary's old street was completely demolished.
I remember all the streets. There were parallel streets.
They'd all lead on to this street,
which would then lead on to another street, which led to the church.
Every Sunday we got sent to this church - morning, noon and night.
I don't think it's because my parents were particularly religious,
I think it's just because they wanted a day on their own.
If we went without hassle, and did as we were told,
then every Sunday afternoon, the ice cream van would come down and we was allowed an ice cream.
We used to have what we'd call Singers Day,
which was organised by the church, where all the little girls
would dress up in lovely white dresses
and we'd walk through the streets.
I always had to have the nicest and best dress,
although I never quite lived up to my mother's standards,
because I was quite a tomboy, really,
so I'd get put in a pretty dress in the morning and I'd end up black by lunchtime.
The family left Raby Street when Hilary was six years old, and she hasn't been back since.
Our house would have been about there.
At the bottom here, right at the very bottom, was a corner shop.
My mum used to send me. She'd say, "Go on, run there, run back and I'm going to time you."
I used to run down to the bottom of the corner shop, get what she wanted and run back in with it.
Every house was... Whilst they were a tiny little terrace,
I think everybody tried quite hard to keep theirs immaculate.
It used to be a competition with the women -
who had the whitest net curtains and who had the whitest step, the shiniest brass letterbox.
It was quite a nice atmosphere. I remember having lots of friends here
whereas I can't remember any other time in my childhood I did have friends.
My father used to put central heating in houses.
He had probably 300, 400 guys working for him - central heating engineers.
So, he made an awful lot of money.
Even though the house was a tiny little terrace, it was very nice.
It was very nice and very well furnished and, you know.
Until the day that, um... the bailiffs walked in
and took everything away.
I was sat in the front room with my brother,
and my mother answered the door.
My father was working away. And it was all because, I later learned,
that, um, my father's business had gone under -
become insolvent. In those days, you didn't have limited companies,
so, obviously, the house was tied in to the business.
So, not only did they lose their house,
they lost every bit of furniture in it, including the beds, cooker
and the sofa that my brother and I were sat on at the time.
We were just left with two Jaffa boxes to sit on.
I was obviously disturbed and I was obviously upset and, you know,
it must have remained with me for the rest of my life because,
you know, really, it's one of the first memories I've got of childhood.
It must be very deeply embedded in me.
I just, um,
I just remember my mum being so upset that day - inconsolable.
And I think that's why I thought, "This will never happen to me."
One thing it did teach me is resilience, tenacity.
I made my mind up that day that I would create something for myself
that nobody would take from me.
Back in the Den,
and Hilary's got her own thoughts on why she thinks she's made such a splash.
The charm that you get from Boltonians is incredibly useful
because I certainly know when to switch it on
and it's always worked in my favour.
But it was a kind of charm the likes of which we'd never seen before.
Where there's muck, there's luck.
Passion doesn't create profit.
It's also about making money and about profitability - bottom line.
She's brought in her very straight-talking attitude.
-Marketing expertise is what I need.
-Fine, can give you that, move on!
-Help with strategy.
-Fine, move on.
It's gritty. It's just real.
It's very direct, from the heart. "That's how I feel. That's what I'll say."
That could either make you a million pound deal or lose it you.
Even her gravelly voice, the way she talks, her expressions, everything, is so different.
-It's a long, hard road.
Think about it.
And it's nothing pretentious about Hilary.
You may well sell a few but, commercially - no, love, no.
My father used to say, "Hils, you're that bloody garrulous,
"your tongue will get you hung one day."
But, fortunately, it hasn't. Fortunately, it's stood me in good stead.
Perhaps Hilary's most defining moment of this series
happened during what Alan Sharrock had hoped would be a relaxing pitch for his self-help audio guides.
Out of your 500 members, how many attend per week?
-And then tell me how many should.
-I don't have that information, Hilary.
Alan became the first entrepreneur to face Hilary's wrath.
-Forget the Maruishi experience, we're on Planet Earth in Dragons Den!
You would make my foot itch, mate!
"You're making my foot itch now!"
And then, all of a sudden, bang, he gets smashed out of the Den.
I'm not amused. I'm angry. I'm out.
You would make my foot itch.
I can remember the first time I heard, "You make my foot itch." I can remember going...
I couldn't understand what she kept on about. "You make my foot itchy."
I said, "What do you mean, you've got an itchy foot?" She said, "I want to kick him."
He really did make my foot itch.
Had he carried on much longer, I think he'd have made my hand itch too.
'Six months on.
'And has Alan recovered from his ordeal in the Den?'
Wouldn't it be nice if Hilary was sat here
and we could have the two of us sat here together, holding hands?
That would be quite nice, wouldn't it?
He would drive me insane.
The other thing to mention is that there's a recession on
and people, some people can't afford to go on holiday to the Caribbean.
-So they could come along to...
And listen to the sirens(!)
If she's ever in Shrewsbury, she can always pop in
and we can share a drink together on my beach.
And, um,...you know,
I could even perform reflexology on her foot
to stop it itching.
'But it wasn't just her words that caught our imagination.
'Hilary made us stand up and pay attention in another way.'
Shoulder pads were one of the top trends on Twitter
the night after the programme and the next morning.
She's a larger-than-life character and she dresses that way.
And the way she dresses hits you between the eyes.
She's basically saying, "I am what I am,
"take me for who I am and accept me for who I am".
And that's why I love her.
She doesn't care what anybody else thinks.
She likes them, she'll wear them, she'll do her own thing. Great.
I don't think it's very easy to describe Hilary to somebody
who hasn't seen Hilary on TV.
Um...Hilary's a one-off.
Next series, I'll wear shoulder pads. Not even matching. Huh?
'Back in Bolton, Hilary's meeting up with her cousin Janet.'
-Hello, my little love.
'Having grown up together,
'Janet's got one or two memories of Hilary's fashion sense, too.'
I was about 11 or 12 there.
Look at the state of me trousers, Janet!
Ooh! They're half-mast!
I didn't care how I looked then, did I?
'Hilary wasn't the only one in her family to stand out from the crowd.'
-How do you remember me dad and me mum?
-Do you know what?
I used to think when Auntie Wyn and Uncle Arthur used to come,
because your mum was always immaculately dressed. Always.
And with you always having the businesses
and you was the only one within the family
whose parents was in business and that,
and it was like, "Auntie Wyn and Uncle Arthur
"must be really, you know, rich." And that, as a kid...
Do you know, I think they wanted to give that perception.
-Yeah, I do.
I used to think, "Oh, my God!"
Because they were always...
Do you know, I remember, even on a Sunday,
-they'd put a shirt and tie on and...
-If me dad went out, he'd put a suit on.
He was always immaculate.
And my mother would always have her hair done, have her makeup done.
Lipstick. Red lipstick. Yeah. It was.
-So I suppose I were brought up with it really.
Do you know, he used to say to me,
-"Hils, if you dress like..."
"..then people treat you like..."
-Sadly, it probably is true.
But it wasn't only fashion sense Hilary learnt from her parents.
Having gone bankrupt, Hilary's dad needed to find a new job
and a new home for his family.
This pub in Farnworth in Bolton provided both.
But was also the setting for some important early business lessons
for the then 7-year-old.
In the 60s, Mum and Dad went into pubs as tenants.
I hated it. Absolutely hated it.
And it was just lonely and isolating. I hated it.
'The Railway Hotel was one of the first times
'I've tasted hard graft in my life.'
And it was a question of my dad coming upstairs one evening
and saying, "Come on, our Hils, I want you down these stairs.
"We're busy and I need some glasses washing. Come on, move it. Quick."
-Would you like to have a look around?
-Yeah, I'd love to.
Is it still the same, the pub?
The bar hasn't changed at all.
-And that used to be...There was a little room there.
And it was like a little snug.
-Aye. I remember the fireplace, what they took out.
Cos the first thing my dad used to do on a morning
was go out to roll the papers
and he'd go around and light all the fires.
-That's right. Yeah. Yeah.
My dad had an uncompromising work ethic.
"You can sleep, you can eat, you can work."
My dad would run us to school, if he decided to take us to school.
If he'd got other jobs for me to do,
like pull a pint or wash the ashtrays
or clean the loos or Hoover,
then I would do that instead of going to school.
That's not a bad pint, I'll tell you.
By the age of 11, I could cash up a till,
balance the till, do the reordering,
'close the bar up, clean the bar up.
'And, you know, virtually run a business.'
So I guess I'd got all the necessary business skills
by the time I was 11 years of age.
I always thought this pub was haunted.
What's the ghost called we're supposed to have in the cellar?
-Do you go down there?
-Yeah. I say, "Hello, good night,
"God bless, see you". You know?
It's not gonna hurt me, is it?
No. It's the living you've got to be aware of, isn't it? Not the dead.
'I'm a workaholic. Total workaholic.
'I'm a nightmare to live with.'
You know, there is no such thing as a day ill in my life.
Or a day off sick. It never happened.
'Never ever happened.
'You got up and you did what you had to do.'
Just you having to work that hard as a kid.
Oh, give over! Don't be so soft!
It's not heartbreaking at all,
it's bloody good for your soul.
Don't feel sorry for me. Christ, no!
I mean, I'll tell you something, it was bloody hard work growing up
and it was a lonely, lonely childhood,
but there were lots of laughter and lots of love with me mum and dad.
There was always lots of cuddles and, by God, we used to laugh.
So Hilary had been given her first taste
of what it takes to run a business.
But she was desperate to find out about the wider world
and she hit on a career that made best use of that Boltonian charm.
I think I was a sales person from being born, really.
I think I came out selling my way out.
It's probably my upbringing.
I was brought up in pubs and clubs and hotels,
so I always had to have kind of...social skills.
I always interacted very well with people.
Crikey, I've even sold door-to-door.
I remember being up to my knees in snow
in the middle of Yorkshire one day and thinking,
"What the hell am I doing here?"
And from there, I ended up with Tibbett & Britten.
I thought I was going to work in the rag trade.
Little did I know Tibbett & Britten was a logistics company
who actually carried hanging garments for the rag trade.
Hilary come down from...I think she was working in Yorkshire.
She was a northern sales rep.
She appeared as an exotic creature on the scene.
Her dress style then, as now, was somewhat exuberant.
We were a pretty male society. We had this lively young lass.
She gave the impression of being very open, but she was.
-Naive, which she wasn't.
-I think I was too lively for him!
He'd say to me, "Good God, can I have some of what she's had this morning?"
She shamelessly used her northern charm.
She came across as this lass who'd come to the wicked city
and the wicked city fell for it.
And it would be, "Go on, talk for me. Speak for me."
And I'd say, "Well, I will if you sign my order form".
I and others thought she'd got something special about her
in terms of marketing and sales.
I don't think at that stage anyone spotted
the business brain and the creativity behind it,
although she was clearly a very shrewd person
and she was very clearly a person who was driven.
After more than 15 years working for other people,
Hilary decided it was time to go it alone,
and Pall-Ex was born.
But with a young son, a marriage that had gone awry
and a new business concept to sell, it came at a cost.
I suffered some quite hard years in the early years,
as any new businessperson would, anyway,
as any new business starting up.
Um, and I lived in some quite crummy places, as well.
One being that flaming cold
that you used to have to tin foil the windows
and look at me son and tin foil him, as well, because it was so cold.
I was fighting a battle in the workplace
to kind of grow the business. I was juggling for cash.
And then I'd go home and I'd got difficult times with my son.
For whatever reason, whether he was in with the wrong crowd,
and I didn't see it, I must have been blind,
he did turn to hard drugs, class A drugs.
Heroin, crack cocaine.
It took me a long time to find out,
but he was my son, after all,
and I could not kick him to the kerb and leave him in the gutter.
And he actually says to me, "If you'd done that, Mum, I'd be dead now".
There was no way I could do that.
I just had to stand by... and pick up the pieces,
And be there.
And, you know, pray that
I didn't get that knock at the door every night
to say that he'd either been arrested or was dead.
It was a particularly hard time.
A very hard time in my life. Not one that...
I don't think my health would let me go through it again.
I guess the only regret I have
is that I didn't spend as much time with my son
as I'd liked to have done.
I didn't really have a family life.
All I did was work.
I didn't have a social life. All I did was work.
In the Den, the new Dragon has pledged to invest her own money
in the very best business ideas.
When Simon Booth, along with his daughter Ruby,
asked for £75,000 for his wooden balance bike company,
was she prepared to part with her cash?'
Balance bikes are the perfect way
to start children onto cycling.
Customers include John Lewis,
who have just placed their first order, £35,000 worth.
'I particularly loved it that he brought little Ruby on,'
to demonstrate it. She's gorgeous.
'I fell in love her, actually. And I thought the product was fantastic.'
Having revealed his latest turnover of nearly £0.5 million
made just 30 grand net profit,
Deborah Meadon pushed Simon for an explanation.
-What are your overheads?
-OK, key overheads will be exhibitions.
Put some numbers against those. How much do you spend on exhibitions?
-Exhibitions in the region of 45-50,000.
-Wages and salaries?
-I think 45,000.
-OK. What about your rent?
-It's about 15,000, I guess.
At the moment, you've managed to explain 100,000.
Deborah started really drilling down into the numbers, fair enough,
it was quite a substantial gap in the spending,
but by this time I had really gone completely blank.
-I must apologise, I can't pull those figures out.
-Well, you need to.
-Do you know how important this is?
Simon, I'm really sorry...
Quickly after Deborah had declared herself out, Peter was out,
'and then Theo was out as well.'
I almost thought, "How can I get out of here without anyone noticing?"
But thankfully for Simon, there was a logistics expert
who had yet to declare her hand.
-Simon, you say the action are costing you £20.
Is that shipped?
We have got some shipping costs in there as well.
Straightaway, I picked up
he'd not included the shipping costs in his figures,
'so that gave me a glimmer of hope,'
because I thought, "If he's shipping from England, there's a cheaper way of doing this."
What about your distribution costs in the UK?
Coming from our warehouse to the customer
has to be included in the overhead as well.
-Right. That, I think, would easily account for at least £40,000.
'Hilary's discovery certainly changed the mood in the Den.'
I quite like it, so,
because I like the product so much, I'm going to make you an offer -
half the money, that's £37,500, for 15%.
I also think it's a good product, and I can see mileage in it,
so I would like to offer you half the money for 15%.
I don't think I'd have invested on my own, because I think it needed quite a lot of work.
'I thought that if I was investing with Duncan,'
then we would share the workload with it.
What I would like to do is accept your offer.
Well done. Simon, very good move.
I came out of there with a result.
Ruby was one of the first people that I told.
She was like, "Yay, well done, Daddy!"
-After his success in the Den...
-Hello. Good morning.
..Simon headed back to his offices in Somerset.
Six months later, how is the business getting on?
Since the Den, I've taken on three extra people,
the phone has never, ever stopped ringing.
In fact, Simon says this year he'll turn over £1 million,
and can already forecast £2 million in 2012.
I just feel like we're completely bucking all the trends.
We are at Motorcycle Live,
which is the premium motorcycle event of the year.
This is a consumer event, because they're the ones of the cash,
and we're trying to capture that cash.
In a show like this, we'd expect it to return at least 150-200,000.
But Simon's success has come
without the backing of his two Dragons.
The rigorous process of due diligence that happens before
each deal is signed had uncovered another shareholder,
that hadn't been mentioned in the Den.
That, quite honestly, was something that was right back
from the early days of the business, and I'd almost forgotten about it.
'Simon had neglected to rescind those shares.'
Both Duncan and I decided that neither of us
were prepared to work with a silent shareholder.
Having not gone ahead with the deal with the Dragons,
I'm really excited of going out on my own.
I see that we've got massive potential,
and I do feel that I've got the strengths to make it happen.
'I'm sure he'll succeed, actually. He's a lovely guy
'and he's got a lovely little daughter,'
so I think he'll do very well.
Hilary Devey has a portfolio of six properties around the world.
But her grandest is nestled in East Staffordshire.
This seven-bedroom wing was built for a mere
three-day visit from Edward VII in 1902.
Fit for a king, it has an exterior,
and an interior that is the perfect place for a busy Dragon to unwind.
But today she has an ulterior use for her home.
We've got a dinner downstairs this evening in the ballroom,
in aid of the Stroke Association.
It's being attended by His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent,
and lots of wealthy people who are going to dig very deeply
into their pockets.
It will be a massive hive of activity down there currently.
It's an exclusive guest list, with royalty, dignitaries,
and business elite in attendance.
All this fine wining and dining may seem worlds away from her day-job,
but, for Hilary, everything comes back to business.
Charity is a business. Without a revenue stream, there's no charity.
Where'd you get your revenue stream?
You're selling the concept of the charity to Joe Public,
who's going to donate.
That goes for any charity, anywhere in the world.
I wouldn't get involved in a charity
if I didn't perceive it as paramount importance,
and I wouldn't get involved unless I could give it 100%.
Charities that have no business acumen make my foot itch, frankly.
I'm not very glamorous at the moment,
but hopefully once I've donned my gladrags
I will be a little bit more befitting as a hostess.
She's not alone amongst the Dragons in drawing on their
business contacts to raise money for charitable causes.
But, for Hilary, there's another compelling reason
why she's hosting this charity event tonight.
Three years ago, I was trying to pack for a business trip,
going to Turkey.
My arm started tingling,
and I was telling people, "I just don't feel right.
"I just feel really, really poorly."
And by the following morning, I'd collapsed on the bathroom floor.
They rushed me into hospital, and I just remember
being on this trolley, and them saying, "You've had a stroke, love.
"You've had a stroke, duckie," is what he said.
And I thought, "What's a stroke?" Me? A stroke?"
I think before I say anything else, I ought to express
on behalf of all of us here, our extreme grateful thanks to Hilary.
This is a wonderful gesture for having this great dinner party in your home.
So, thank you very much indeed.
'The stroke I had was of the magnitude 9.5/10,
'so it was quite a hefty stroke.'
I had two massive seizures, and died twice. I had cardiac arrest twice.
The atmosphere is good. Lots of laughter.
I'm going to give a little speech,
and just ask them to be generous and donate.
I'll be obviously very discreet and surreptitious about it.
It won't be a question of, "Have you got a pen in your hand,
"and cheque books at the ready?"
Well, it might, you never know.
I think it took me three months
to realise actually what had happened to me.
I remember getting incredibly frustrated
that I couldn't dial numbers, that I couldn't pick a phone up,
that I couldn't even spell the word "the."
You're not off the hook yet, ladies and gentlemen,
because we are here for a very worthy cause this evening.
Tonight, on the tables, we've left some pledge cards, and I hope
that you'll all be very kind, and very generous in your donations.
Thank you all so much for joining me this evening. Thank you.
I don't believe in self-pity, at all.
I never, ever thought when I did have the stroke,
"Why has this happened to me?"
It could have been anybody. It could have been anybody.
It just happened to have been me. I kind of rallied myself out of it,
and I believe that what kind of pushed me on was tenacity,
willpower and just saying, "I am not lying in his bed."
Absolutely fabulous. Job well done, I think, to everybody.
It was a really good night.
Do you think you have achieved what you set out to?
I think we've achieved more than we set out to.
-Do you ever rest, Hilary Devey?
-Hilary Devey? Rest?
Doesn't go, does it?
Rest is rarely an option for any of the Dragons.
As well as keeping on top of the day job,
most of their investments need a little nurturing.
Yes, yes please. We love you. We'd love it.
Since becoming Hilary's first Den investment,
she's helping Liz and Alan Colleran look for new markets
for their memory foam sleeping bag.
-Just try it. Seriously, just try it.
-Go on, I'll tuck you in.
The ultimate objective is that we get Virgin to commit
to having Duvalay in their upper class cabins, on their beds.
Today, Hilary's contact book has worked hard.
They're all pitching to someone who wouldn't look out of place in the Den.
'We're in the upper class lounge in Jo'burg.
'We'd like to take it a step further with a trial, and hopefully
'looking forward to snuggling up in it sometime soon myself.'
I hope so. That would be fab.
Next stop, the annual company party,
and a chance to say thanks to her members
with a typically bespoke entertainment lineup.
One mustn't forget that I work in an industry with big, butch men,
who are full of testosterone, and daily, with each other,
there is an altercation.
So it's one time of year when all those altercations are put to bed,
and they shake each other's hands, arms around each other,
good booze up, and we're fired up for next year.
The 80s was a funny time, wasn't it?
I'd be there listening to Status Quo with my ridiculous
short underpants, what was I thinking?
What was I thinking?
MUSIC: "Sweet Caroline" by Status Quo
This lot will be going till eight o'clock tomorrow morning.
They won't go to bed tonight.
I won't be hanging about, because I'm going to Spain tomorrow,
I won't be joining them, revelling, but I certainly want them
to let their hair down.
I'd be very disappointed if they don't!
Finally, it's off to the continent.
If you think working out of the Costa Blanca Depot is a way
to hide from the chief exec, you'd be wrong.
Visiting depots like this is of paramount importance
to realise the vision of a full pan-European network.
-Hello, Pedro. Ola.
-How are you?
-I'm well, are you?
She already has three European bases,
licensing her business model and technologies.
Key to their success
is an understanding of how to do business the Devey way.
-Some of them are not arriving at the right time.
We will do something in a short time.
But now is the most critical time where you lay out those disciplines.
I'd warn them and say, "You send your trunk in again late,
"I'll take your freight off it, I'll hold it,
"and I'll return your driver solo.
"Those are the rules, you signed to play by them,
"you've moved the goalposts, not I,
"so now you must be punished accordingly."
It's a business ethos that has stood her in good stead for several decades.
She has a company worth millions, properties all over the world,
and the option never to have to work again.
But, to Hilary,
success isn't judged by the same standards as most of us.
I certainly don't measure my success by this, or by Rangemore.
This is just concrete, and let's face it,
it's only on loan to us while we're here, isn't it?
I'm never ever, ever going to retire.
I enjoy logistics, I enjoy business,
and I've still a long way to go and there's still a vision to fulfil.
For now, I've done OK.
I once remember my dad saying to me, "It doesn't matter
"if you end up collecting dustbins,
"as long as you're happy doing it, you've succeeded in life."
And I'm happy doing what I'm doing, no matter how much hard work it is.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Email [email protected]
The newest star of the most popular series of Dragons' Den is the larger than life, inimitable giant of the haulage industry - Hilary Devey. She brought a unique style and a whole new language into the Den, and this insightful documentary charts her business career and explains how and why she achieved the success that she has.
We see Hilary return to her Bolton roots, where she gained early experience of business success and failure as she lived through her father's bankruptcy and subsequent business rehabilitation running a variety of local pubs and clubs. We visit the aircraft hangar that (along with the rats and a single toilet shared with 50 blokes) housed the first incarnation of Hilary's continually expanding worldwide empire. Hilary also opens up her home and her heart to discuss the stroke that threatened her life and career only two years ago.
Her fellow Dragons give their take on how the new girl fitted in, and we're with Hilary as she takes her first steps with some of her Den investments to see how they're getting on.