Destined to be a successful entrepreneur, Deborah Meaden launched her first business straight out of college, before setting up one of the first ‘Stefanel’ fashion franchises in the UK. With several businesses in the leisure and retail sector under her belt she became Managing Director of Westar Holidays, overseeing its expansion from one to five holiday parks and leading a management buyout. Deborah retained a 23% share of Westar Holidays when it was sold to Phoenix Equity Partners in 2005, before its eventual sale for £83 million in August 2007.
Perhaps best known for her appearances on the BBC2 series ‘Dragons Den’, Deborah joined the panel of investors for series three and has since invested in more than thirty businesses, ranging from market research to online antiques valuations and life saving equipment for hospitals.
Passionate about the environment in which we live, Deborah has judged the Observer Ethical Awards since 2008 and has invested in a number of ‘sustainable’ businesses and also supports a carefully selected group of environmental charities.
Deborah is a Fellow of the WWF, the world’s leading environmental organisation and also a Patron for Tusk Trust, which since its formation in 1990 has raised over £25 million for a wide range of projects across Africa, with The Duke of Cambridge as its Royal Patron. Deborah is an Ambassador for Lend with Care, The Roundhouse, Medical Detection Dogs, Marine Conservation Society and a Fellow with the RSA.
Deborah has received honorary degrees from the University of Exeter Business School, Staffordshire University and Bath Spa University.
In 2012, Deborah launched Friends of the Earth’s Clean British Energy campaign which calls on the Government to develop clean British power from our wind, sun and water and in the same year, acted as a Sustainability Ambassador for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.
Deborah acquired Fox Brothers in 2009, a historic textile firm based in the South West which was on the verge of closure and in 2011 ‘The Merchant Fox’ was launched, an on line venture selling an exquisite collection of British-made goods with provenance.
In 2013, Deborah appeared in series 11 of Strictly Come Dancing, the popular BBC One show that pairs celebrities with professional dancers to compete in a ballroom dancing competition.