Self-made Success: 10 of the UK’s Richest Women

uk-richest-women-in-businessEvery year, commentators eagerly await the publication of the Sunday Times Rich List to see who is making money, and who is losing it fast.

Although the list contains 1,000 names, only around 10% of these are women, and of those, the number who have made their own fortunes (as opposed to inheriting it or receiving it as a divorce settlement) is in single figures.

That makes it even more important for us to celebrate the achievement of the women in business who are doing it for themselves, and inspiring others to follow in their footsteps.

We have profiled 10 of the most successful women in business in the UK, all of whom have come from ordinary backgrounds and serve as reminders that our sex is not a barrier to wealth: in fact, it can be a springboard.

If you are a woman in business, take heart!

UK’s Richest (and Most Hardworking) Women in Business

Louise Blouin £420m

Louise Blouin women in businessBlouin was born in Canada but has been based in the UK since the 1990s. With her second husband, John MacBain, Blouin built a $280m business from classified ads, and since their divorce in 1997, Blouin has more than quadrupled her money.

Through the Louise Blouin Media group, she makes money from art publishing, and she has amassed an enviable private art collection.

Blouin has property in London, New York, Paris and Switzerland, and has the advisory board to her Louise Blouin Foundation includes sculptor Antony Gormley and former Israeli president Shimon Peres.

The foundation runs art programmes, and also has a physical gallery and lecture space – the Louise T. Blouin Institute – in London Shepherd’s Bush.

Karren Brady £81m

Karren Brady women in businessWell known to viewers of The Apprentice as Lord Sugar’s right hand lady, in 2014 Karren Brady was elevated to the House of Lords in her own right as Baroness Brady.

Brady began her career in advertising at Saatchi & Saatchi and the London Broadcasting Company, but caught the eye of investor David Sullivan.

At Brady’s insistence, Sullivan purchased Birmingham FC and installed Brady as his managing director. Thus began her meteoric rise in the world of football.

Brady oversaw the club’s flotation in 1997, and in 2010 became vice chairman of West Ham United.

With previous directorships for Sport England, Channel 4, Syco, Arcadia and Mothercare, a regular column for The Sun, numerous television appearances, and two novels under her belt, Brady is a true renaissance woman!

Denise Coates £1.9bn

Denise Coates women in businessCoates was born into a family with a small family firm of bookmakers, so she knew the business from the inside.

She bought the domain name Bet365.com in 2000 at the start of the internet boom, and proceeded to build one of the largest online betting companies in the world.

She remains the majority shareholder, and was named by BBC Radio 4 as one of the 100 most powerful women in the UK. Coates’ Bet365 Foundation supports education and overseas development.

Ann Gloag £680m

Ann Gloag women in businessGloag began her career as a nurse and worked in a burns unit for 20 years.

In 1980, in partnership with her husband and brother, she founded the Stagecoach Group, running buses between Dundee and London.

Through acquisitions and natural growth, Stagecoach became a national operation, and Gloag is now the richest woman in Scotland. She owns two castles, Beaufort Castle and Kinfauns Castle, and was briefly the owner of Kent International Airport prior to its closure in 2014.

Jaqueline Gold £566m

Jacqueline Gold women in businessGold’s first job after school was with Royal Doulton, but she hated it and so asked her father for work experience in his chain of four sex shops.

She found the shops seedy and entirely male-orientated, and after attending a Tupperware party realised there was money to be made in selling sex toys directly to women. The Ann Summers Party Plan was born.

Today Gold oversees a business empire of more than 130 high street stores and a sales force of 7,500.

She has published two autobiographies, appeared in the celebrity edition of The Apprentice, and was named by Barclays Bank as the Most Inspirational Businesswoman in the UK.

Tamara Mellon £148m

Tamara Mellon women in businessLondon-born Mellon made her first fortune from Jimmy Choos. Although Choo gave his name to the company, it was Mellon who raised the financing and sourced factories.

She sold shoes wholesale through major department stores including Harrods and Harvey Nichols, then opened Jimmy Choo stores in London, New York, Beverly Hills and Las Vegas.

Mellon sold the company to HM Capital Partners in 2004, using the proceeds to launch her second major venture, Tamara Mellon, selling footwear and accessories.

She is a global trade envoy for the UK government, and serves on Revlon’s board of directors.

Sharon Osbourne £145m

Sharon women in businessOsbourne was born into the world of rock n roll: her father was music promoter Don Arden, manager of Black Sabbath, and he introduced Osbourne to her future husband, Ozzy.

Osbourne managed his musical career from then on, creating Sharon Osbourne Management and representing groups including Motörhead and The Smashing Pumpkins.

The Osbournes’ transfer to the mainstream was kickstarted when the family starred in MTV’s The Osbournes in 2002, and Sharon in particular used this as a springboard for presenting roles on The X Factor, America’s Got Talent, and The Talk.

Mary Perkins £1.6bn

Mary Perkins women in businessPerkins founded Specsavers with her husband in Guernsey in 1984. The largest, privately owned opticians in the world, Specsavers has stores across two continents and employs 30,000 staff.

Perkins is responsible for business development and PR. She has honorary fellowships from the Cardiff University (her alma mater) and an honorary doctorate from Plymouth University.

Perkins is a director of Age Concern and Women’s Refuge, and she has received numerous accolades, including her title of Dame Mary Perkins, for her contribution to business and her charitable work.

JK Rowling £657m

JK Rowling women in businessThe most famous name on the list, Rowling is the author of the best-selling book series in history. A true rags to riches story, Rowling was living on state benefits whilst writing her first book.

Within five years, she was a multi-millionaire. Her income comes from book sales but, more importantly, from franchising Harry Potter for films and merchandise.

Rowling is estimated to have made more than $160m in charitable donations, including to Comic Relief, and she is the founder and President of Lumos, a charity supporting the 8m disadvantaged children living in orphanages and similar institutions.

Emma Watson £39m

Emma watson women in business

At just 25 years old, Watson is the youngest woman in business on our list and no doubt has a very exciting career still ahead of her.

She shot to fame acting in the Harry Potter film franchise, and in addition to acting, has made money from modelling for Burberry and Lancôme, and creating a clothing line for People Tree.

Watson is a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, a role she takes exceptionally seriously, using her position to advocate for gender equality.

Your Turn…

It doesn’t matter what your background is, or which industry you want to make your mark on. Who will you emulate? What is your big idea?

Let these women inspire you, and maybe one day we’ll feature you as one of our most successful UK women in business!




Money Nuggets

Similar Posts


  1. Quite a few of these women I had not heard of but have heard of their products. I think an original idea, and lots of hard work are the key to success. I just have to find that original idea.

  2. These are inspiring – I feel embarrassed that I hadn’t heard of Mary Perkins as she sounds like a remarkable woman. All very empowering – thank you!

    1. Hi Sarah, Thank you for taking the time to leave your comments. I am glad you found my post inspiring!

  3. Wow these women are amazing! They give me inspiration for accomplishing my business and blogging goals 🙂

    1. Thank you very much for taking the time to share your comments. They are truly inspirational women who have done some incredible things for themselves whilst inspiring others.

  4. WOW, I hadn’t heard of Mary Perkins, £1.6bn I could certainly invest that!

    I do think though that some of these women do have other advantages – for example Tamara Mellon’s father co-founded Vidal Sassoon and her mum was a Chanel model- so having money and contacts behind her would certainly help. They are still inspiring women though and fantastic business owners that have made it in their field.

    1. Thank you very much for taking the time to share your comments. Despite having a few contacts behind her, Tamara have had to overcome many challenges that many of us would have easily given up and go back to how things were.

  5. As a woman in business, it is always inspiring to read other women’s stories. Thanks for sharing this, I need to give myself a boost today and this was it!

    1. Thank you very much for taking the time to share your comments. I am really glad that you found the post inspiring.

  6. It just shows in this day where we STILL don’t have pay equality between sexes that women should never feel inferior to men in the work place. Great post.

    1. Bee thank you very much for taking the time to share your comments. We can be whatever we want to be. As long as we keep trying, persevere and never to give up.

  7. A very inspiring post. They are all women for us to look up to no matter how big or small our dreams are.

    Laura x

    1. Very true Laura. And thank you very much for taking the time to share your comments.

  8. Really inspiring post, thank you. Great to read about other women who have done so well for themselves in what is still, in many cases, a man’s world

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

fifteen − fifteen =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.