Victoria Beckham, the pop star, model and Wag who reinvented herself as a fashion designer, has topped a list of Britain’s 100 most successful entrepreneurs of 2014.
The woman formerly known as Posh Spice came in at No 1 in the list compiled for business magazine Management Today. The rankings are drawn up by assessing turnover growth and job creation over the past five years.
The magazine said of the designer, who opened a 6,000 sq ft (550 sq metre) boutique in Mayfair, central London, for her fashion brand last month: “Beckham is living proof that celebrity may be the most marketable commodity of all.”
Philip Beresford, who drew up the list, said it was “her finely tuned business acumen” that won her the top spot.
Since the 40-year-old mother-of-four and former Spice Girl set up her fashion business five years ago, her staff has grown from three to a 100-strong team with the latest turnover at £30m.
Offering leather credit card holders for £150, T-shirts for more than £700 and handbags for up to £18,000, she has seen sales growth of 2,900% and employment growth of 3,233%. “Deservedly she is number one in these two crucial measurements for success,” Beresford said.
The accolade follows her topping of a poll to find the greatest style icon at London fashion week in September.
Beckham spoke of her transformation from singer to designer in a recent Guardian interview, saying: “First time around I felt famous, but now I feel successful.”
She added: “I used to wear clothes which would make me stand out and now I don’t so much because I don’t feel I have anything to prove.”
Born Victoria Adams in Harlow, Essex, she burst on to the pop scene with the Spice Girls in the mid 1990s and married the England footballer David Beckham in 1999. The couple’s joint wealth is estimated at £380m, and she is credited as the driving force behind “Brand Beckham”.
She joined the other Spice Girls for a world tour in 2007/8, but chose not to perform a solo song, instead posing as though in a fashion show, in a nod to where her real ambitions lay.
Beckham launched her eponymous fashion label in 2008, and a lower priced diffusion label in 2011. As a businesswoman, she has demonstrated herself to be “an adept exploiter of her own celeb value”, according to the list. By 2011 she was a fixture at New York fashion week.
Her Dover Street shop opened in September, but she missed the official opening to speak to the UN general assembly in New York about her role in the UNAids campaign. Since then a steady stream of celebrities have been through its doors. It has been likened to an art gallery, with sparse interior, clothes hanging from chains on the ceiling or a jagged rail, and no cash tills as all purchases are completed through an iPad.
The “burgeoning entrepreneurial talent” of Britain’s Asian community is also evident in the list, said Management Today, with nine individuals or families making the rankings. They are led by brother-and-sister team Amit and Meeta Patel, in second place, just pipped by Beckham. The siblings’ London-based pharma operation, Auden McKenzie, specialises in the development, licensing and marketing of niche generic medicines, and is at the cutting edge of work into areas such as treating heroin addiction.
Mahmud Kamani, 50, of online fashion site Boohoo.com, is ranked third, while Julian Dunkerton 49, of clothing chain SuperGroup, claims fourth spot.
Apart from Beckham, the list includes 14 other women, up from 11 when the rankings were last published in 2011. Among them are software entrepreneur Suzanne Marshall-Forsyth and Cathie Paver, founder of Paver Shoes.
The top 100 were “real job creators”, said Management Today. “In five years, they have added more than 61,556 employees to their payrolls taking their head count to 158,189. This represents a 64% rise, and shows that in the critical area of productivity,(in which much of the UK economy is notably lacklustre) our MT 100 members are right on top of their game.”