David Ross discovered his drive to succeed in business while working on a building site in Algeria.

He’d been sent there by his father, son of a legendary figure in the Grimsby fishing industry, on a trip intended to teach the young, privileged Ross to work for himself. It worked: a few years later, he co-founded Carphone Warehouse with his school friend Charles Dunstone, using an initial investment of just £6,000.

Ross took on the role of finance director and focused on the development of the firm’s high street retail footprint. Four years later, the business had 20 stores, and it expanded rapidly from there.

Though he left in 2008, Ross remained a major shareholder, and in 2014 was one of the leading investors in the merger between Carphone Warehouse and Dixons, which produced Dixons Carphone, listed on the FTSE100 Index.

Key achievements

  • Carphone Warehouse was so self-sufficient that, when Ross led its IPO in 2000, the company had never borrowed any money.
  • Ross’s success with Carphone Warehouse led other companies to call on his expertise, and he spent time advising National Express, Trinity Mirror, Big Yellow Storage and Frontiers Capital.
  • David Ross was declared Grimsby’s first billionaire in the 2015 Sunday Times Rich List.

Lessons for your store

  1. Look for products with future potential – Ross and Dunstone entered the mobile phone market when they were still too bulky to carry and largely consigned to the car.
  2. Find the best staff to work with – Ross and Dunstone were old school friends whose success was widely assigned to their combined business acumen.
  3. Continue to pursue your personal interests – Ross, passionate about sport, has been on the board of Wembley Stadium and the Commonwealth Games, as well as forming part of the consortium that saved Leicester City from receivership.