Sarah Willingham, one of the youngest and most successful entrepreneurs in the high street food industry recently joined us for Lunchtime Masterclass.
Having managed and owned some of the biggest restaurant names in the business, Sarah has earnt a string of business awards and recently set up her own private equity platform. She currently appears on ITV's This Morning sharing her advice on personal finance and tips on how to save cash.
She will be joining Stylist in a live web chat at 1pm this Friday, so make sure you have all your business and career questions ready for her then.
Sarah spent the early years of her career managing household restaurant chains, including Planet Hollywood and Pizza Express. In 2004, she successfully raised the finance to buy The Bombay Bicycle Club, and turned a heavily loss-making business of six restaurants into a profitable group of 17, establishing the largest chain of Indian restaurants in the UK.
She sold the business successfully in 2007 and subsequently continued as a main board director of The Clapham House Group where she was responsible for three of their four brands; Tootsies, The Real Greek and The Bombay Bicycle Club - a role that encompassed over 50 restaurants and more than 1500 employees.
Also in 2004, Sarah also co-established her own AIM (Alternative Investment Market) listed company, Neutrahealth PLC, which acquired six businesses in the fast-growing nutrition and pharmaceutical industry and was later sold to Indian PLC Elder Pharmaceuticals.
In 2008, Sarah decided to return to her entrepreneurial roots. She became FSA (Financial Services Authority) approved and co-established a private equity platform in the UK.
Sarah is best-known in the public eye for her appearances on TV. She starred as a judge in three series of BBC2 reality TV show The Restaurant and recently appeared as a panelist on The Apprentice: You're Fired. Her impressive career has been recognised via a number of accolades, including Business Weekly’s “Young Entrepreneur of the Year,” British Telecom’s “Spokesperson for Small Business Growth 2008” and one of The Times “35 most successful women under 35.”
Sarah lives in the countryside with her Danish husband, Michael, and their four young children – Minnie, Monti, Nelly and Marly.
Read the transcript from the live chat.