Deborah Meaden
    (£17,000 - £25,000)
... Return to previous page


Born in February 1959 the successful UK business woman lives in Somerset with husband Paul, Friday the cat, two dogs, five horses, eleven chickens and four ducks. Deborah is a born entrepreneur and is always on the lookout for business opportunities to which she can add value or which hold a particular interest to her.

From a very early age Deborah Meaden knew she wanted her own business. Having left school after O-Levels she studied at business college and following graduation worked as a sales room model in a fashion house for three months before moving to Italy. At the age of 19, with very little capital she launched her own glass and ceramics import company supplying upmarket stores like Harvey Nichols. But despite having sole agency rights, the goods started appearing in other high street shops and, without the finances for a legal fight, Deborah walked away and took on a franchise for Italian footwear and clothing company Stefanel, one of the first in the UK.

Setting up the Stefanel franchise in partnership with a friend was a fantastic experience which taught Deborah a great deal about retail and franchising, but in the end it wasn’t enough. Ultimately she became dissatisfied with the franchise model and sold her share of the business to her partner. After this Deborah embarked on a number of other business ventures including running a prize bingo concession a Butlins, which she feels she learnt the most from.

With several successful businesses in the leisure and retail sector under her belt, Deborah decided to take up a position in the family amusement arcade business. Starting on the shop floor she worked her way up to Operations Director before moving across into the holiday park side of the business, Weststar Holidays. Within two years she had been promoted to Managing Director and grew the company from one to five holiday parks, providing high-quality family holidays for over 150,000 people per year.

In 1999, keen to secure her future, Deborah undertook a management buyout borrowing the necessary funds from Lloyds to take over the business. "Highly-geared but happy to be in control" Deborah was now able to fully exercise her entrepreneurial muscles, she worked hard to establish Weststar as the best in the marketplace whilst also capitalising on her flare for marketing. Choosing to sell two parks during this time, leaving only the larger sites in the better locations, the company was gradually transformed into what she describes as “a lean, mean fighting machine”.

Deborah's long term plan had been to grow the business and a period of substantial investment marked the early years of TGGL, her newly formed group. With three prime sites achieving high occupancy rates in a fragmented marketplace, Weststar soon found itself the target of several takeover approaches. A deal to sell in 2003 was aborted at midnight on the day the contracts were meant to be signed, when the buyers reduced their price at the last minute and Deborah walked away. But the whole process made her think about exiting and in 2005 she finally sold the company to Phoenix Equity Partners in a deal worth £33m whilst retaining a 23% stake and an active role within the firm. She sold her remaining stake in the business when Weststar was sold to Parkdean Holidays for £83m.

After selling Weststar she made her first investment in a market research company, reflecting her interest and experience in marketing, brands and communications.

Deborah joined the panel of millionaire investors for series 3 of Dragon's Den, following the departure of Rachel Elnaugh and Doug Richard. 

Deborah Meaden is a great keynote and conference speaker on topics such as business leadership, entrepreneurship, women in business and retail.

Make an enquiry

Wish List

View my wish list
Add To Wishlist


Biography Biography

Choosing a Speaker

Parliament Communications presents about 500 conference and after dinner speakers on this web site. If you have not been able to find the ideal speaker for your event, please call +44 (0)1202 24 24 24. We have access to thousands of other speakers covering business, economics, politics, sport, adventure, technology, etc. We can offer speakers to motivate, inspire, inform, entertain, host, chair and make your event memorable! So much more than a virtual database of speakers, Parliament has experienced staff who are ready to help you choose the perfect speaker for your event.

Speaker Downloads

When you have booked your speaker from Parliament, you may be able to use this facility to download the speaker's presentation material.

Speaker Terms uses these keywords to help you find the best speakers for your event. In the Search screen there is a facility to search these keywords for every speaker on the web site. If you do not find a speaker matching a keyword that you think we should be using, please let us know by e-mail or call Parliament on +44 (0)1202 24 24 24

Parliament, parliamentspeakers, communications, speakers, bureau, agents, management, conference, event, corporate, presentation, present, parliment, parlament, guest, guest speaker, book, engage,After dinner speaker, entertainment, raconteur, anecdote, anecdotal, light hearted, Keynote speaker, main speaker, address,Motivational speaker, inspirational speaker, motivate, inspire, Dragon, Dragon's den, Duncan Bannatyne, James Caan, Peter Jones, Evan Davies, entrepreneur, business, celebrity, management, leadership, sucees, millionnaire, female, woman, women