In Russia, Roman Abramovich is a businessman, investor and politician. In the UK he is better known as the owner of Chelsea Football Club.

Abramovich started his entrepreneurial life as a street trader and then as a mechanic in a local factory.

In 1988, as Perestroika opened up opportunities for privatisation in Russia, he and his wife Olga set up a doll-making company followed by oil conglomerates and pig farms as well as investing in other businesses.

Despite being sent to prison in 1992 for a case of theft of government property, by 1999 he had moved into an apartment in the Kremlin at the request of president Boris Yeltsin.

In June 2003 he became the owner of Chelsea Football Club and started an ambitious commercialisation process. A controversial figure in football, he is almost always present at Chelsea games.

Key achievements

  • Abramovich is a self-made man who has gone from street trader to one of Russia’s richest men.
  • In 2004 he took Chelsea to becoming league champions – for the first time in 50 years.
  • Abramovich reportedly donates more money to charity than any other Russian.

Lessons for your store

  • Be a hard negotiator – Abramovich may be controversial but his hard-headed attitude to business has created his success.
  • Be present and show your staff leadership – the Russian is famously present at most Chelsea games.
  • Give back to your community – Abramovich is said never to forget his roots and has invested heavily in a region where he was governor.