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
Blouin 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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!
- 15 Money Habits of Financially Savvy Women - May 16, 2020
- How to Create the Next Generation of Financially Independent Women - March 8, 2020
- My Top 9 Personal Finance Books - March 1, 2020