”It’s some achievement — more so when he tells his next tale.When he was 10, he contracted a nasty infection in his left hand.“They thought they would have to amputate it.
As I lay there, I made my mind up: I was going to go my own way, do my own thing.I wasn’t going to work for anyone else.”But he succumbed to family pressure — “they wanted me to be somebody important” — and joined an accountancy firm as a trainee: “I was paid £5.50 a week, plus expenses.”One audit client was a wine merchant.“They were run by a guy who was 7ft tall and 6ft wide.Inside the Hawes & Curtis shop in Jermyn Street, Touker Suleyman is holding court.He’s the owner of the shirt-shops chain and this is its largest store.
As you might expect, the staff scurry around, answering to his every whim.
But, no, I’d not heard of Suleyman either until this week when the BBC announced the line-up for the new series of Dragons’ Den and, alongside Peter Jones and Deborah Meaden, there will be Suleyman.
To check I was not the only one, I phoned my pal Philip Beresford, who compiles The Sunday Times Rich List. That will soon change as he goes on to follow the other Dragons and become a household name.
Within seconds of meeting, it’s clear why the programme-makers chose him. We came to the UK, to Bermondsey.”His family was not poor: “They brought their money over and ran a restaurant business.
He’s irrepressible, funny and full of charm and banter. They went into partnership with some people, then bought them out.”The young Suleyman could not speak English when he arrived.
Like another Dragon, Theo Paphitis, he’s a retailer (Hawes & Curtis, Ghost) and born in Cyprus. He went to Peckham Manor secondary school and obtained eight O levels. Not knowing any English and getting eight O levels?