Magazine article Management Today

Britain's Top 100 Entrepreneurs: Women of Substance

Magazine article Management Today

Britain's Top 100 Entrepreneurs: Women of Substance

Article excerpt

Our top female entrepreneurs' businesses include a recruitment agency, retail fashion and home accessories, a call centre and a theatre production company.

13: PENNY STREETER - Ambition 24 Hours

For someone whose first business went bust in 1991, forcing her to move into homeless accommodation, Penny Streeter has made a remarkable recovery. Streeter launched her first recruitment agency in 1989, in expensive offices.

But recession struck and the business failed. Undeterred, she tried again, this time with a small desk in the corner of a friend's office. She and her mother worked alternate days so they could share childcare costs, and DJ'd at children's parties at weekends to make ends meet. In 1996 they moved to the high street and named themselves Ambition. The big break came when they were asked to supply care assistants for a nursing home.

Streeter trained and supplied staff, and the company began operating 24 hours a day, renaming itself Ambition 24 Hours. It has grown rapidly and diversified into the social care sector, running a locum service for doctors.

Streeter and her family wholly own the business, which made pounds 4.4 million profit on pounds 59 million sales in 2002-03.

16: JUDY CRAYMER - Littlestar Services

After working for Sir Cameron Mackintosh, Judy Craymer joined Tim Rice's production company, becoming executive producer on Chess. She went on to a successful career in TV and film before forming Littlestar to produce Mamma Mia, the Abba musical. That was in 1996, and she sunk all she had into it. The gamble paid off when, five years after the show opened, it had grossed dollars 750 million from 11 productions worldwide.

Craymer owns 25% of Littlestar, which made pounds 9 million profit in its 2002-03 accounts. With its huge success, Littlestar must be worth pounds 200 million, which values Craymer's stake at pounds 50 million.

20: EMMA HARRISON - Action for Employment

After messing up her A-levels, Emma Harrison joined the health service, then switched to a two-year engineering course, which she finished in eight months. She then talked her way on to a Bradford University engineering degree and on graduation joined her father's small company training engineers.

Four years later she'd built it into a pounds 1 million business. By 1991, Harrison had started her own outsourcing business, Action for Employment, or A4E.

It outsources a variety of services, from training and education to recruitment, administration and childcare in both the public and private sectors. She owns most of the Sheffield-based firm, which is worth pounds 50 million on the basis of profits of pounds 4 million and sales of pounds 60 million in 2002-03.

26: SARAH TREMELLEN - Bravissimo

'Our goal is to make big-boobed women feel good about themselves,' declares Sarah Tremellen, founder of Leamington Spa-based Bravissimo. She founded the lingerie supplier in 1995 after failing to find bras big enough when she was pregnant. It started as a mail order operation, but has expanded into retail outlets. In 2003, Bravissimo reported a pounds 1.3 million profit on sales of pounds 15 million. It is entirely owned by Tremellen and her family, and should be worth about pounds 13 million.

29: CHEY GARLAND - CJ Garland & Co

Serial entrepreneur Chey Garland started her first business when she was 23, with pounds 600 savings. Today she runs CJ Garland & Co, a Hartlepool-based call centre operation launched in 1997. It has a range of blue-chip clients, but faces tough competition from low-cost foreign rivals in India. …

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