Born into a business-minded family, Richard Desmond eschewed further education, preferring instead to get his hands dirty selling classified advertising.

After opening a music shop, he ended up combining his two specialist areas, music and magazines, on a publication called International Musician.

Before long he had built up an impressive portfolio of publications, taking in everything from a burgeoning adult magazine stable right through to his pet project OK!. Express Newspapers was added to that group and, not long after that, Channel 5.

His entrance onto the top table of media ownership has irked some of his more established rivals, enabling him to push his credentials as a fiercely independent maverick businessman.

He has now disposed of his adult business and, last year, offloaded Channel 5 to US media giant Viacom for a hefty profit.

Key achievements

  1. Building OK! into what is effectively the world’s biggest magazine.
  2. Selling Channel 5 for a reported £450m a few years after picking it up for a fraction of the price.
  3. Becoming a media baron in the face of fierce opposition from all corners of the industry.

Lessons for your store

  1. Look at where you can make savings – Desmond has turned the likes of Channel 5 into a profitable business by ruthlessly cutting costs.
  2. Have faith in your ideas – OK! magazine was his baby and his faith in it helped it really take off.
  3. Don’t let the establishment put you off – Desmond was vilified in certain quarters but stuck to his guns.