Charles Dunstone has heroic status in entrepreneurial circles. Many successful entrepreneurs refer with awe to his ability to shape new markets and set new standards in customer service. Perhaps less well-known is his ability to deliver exceptional profits. Dunstone was 25 when he set up Carphone Warehouse in 1989 with just £6,000 of savings. He has ridden the wave of mobile phone roll-out, a market now worth more than £3 billion in the UK alone. His big breakthrough was to target smaller customers, including small businesses and private individuals, neglected at the time by existing mobile phone companies. Profits of the London-based group have increased by 107% pa, from £1.7m in 1995 to £14.9m in 1998. Sales in the same period rose by 62% pa to reach £159.6m. Carphone Warehouse, which claims to have 45% of all high-street sales by value, now runs 459 Carphone Warehouse and Tandy stores in the UK and 421 stores across the rest of Europe. Dunstone was listed as the country’s 106th richest man in the 2000 Sunday Times Rich List, which valued the company at £500m. Dunstone retains a 55% stake.
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