Media Spotlight: Riding the Storm by Duncan Bannatyne

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At the Financial Business Expo in October this year, Dragons’ Den star Duncan Bannatyne was on hand promoting his new book Riding the Storm.

Mortgage Strategy’s reporter Devraj Ray got a picture with Bannatyne at the end of which the Dragons’ Den star asked Ray whether he was interested in buying a copy.

“If that’s your pitch I’m sorry to say I wish you the best of luck but – I’m out,”, was Ray’s response.

Sadly the joke met with a stony faced response from Bannatyne.

But then as his latest book makes clear, whether it’s in business or relationships, you are either with him or against him.

Such is the popularity of Dragons’ Den TV show which is now on its 11th series and Bannatyne’s status as a full blow celebrity, Riding the Storm is his seventh book and second autobiography.

His first autobiography was how he had found love and made his fortune, this latest book is about where everything starts to go wrong.

The first half of the book is a recap of his early life – he was born poor, joined the Navy, moved to Jersey and it was only after he read a book about Alan Sugar’s life that he was inspired to set up his own business.

From running ice cream vans he then went into care homes, gyms and then hotels. He also gives a recap about his investment history on Dragons’ Den. Up to series 10 he had made 29 offers of which interestingly only half of those have made it through the due diligence process. Shadow investors and the company not being quite as it was described on camera are all reasons he gives for this.  

The first bit to go wrong is his company’s finances. In 2006 his company secures a 10-year loan from Anglo Irish Bank at 1.65 per cent above Libor.

When the market tanks and the Bank base rate and Libor plummets initially this is great for the company.

But with VAT and inflation reducing profits, when Anglo Irish Bank is nationalised and starts to call in loans it asks to revalue Bannatyne’s business, which is a major problem.

The company goes into survival mode and eventually wins out over the bank.

And as he admits “there was a bit of me that also enjoyed the fight” and he goes on to say he ultimately found the experience “electrifying”.

That’s not the case with the collapse of his second marriage which dominates the last third of the book and seems truly encapsulate the book’s title of Riding the Storm.

His second wife announces their divorce in 2011 by text, which unsurprisingly floors him.

With his wife using lawyers to end the marriage he feels like the victim and at one point admits he tweeted suicide was on his mind. His children rally round him but it takes a massive toll on his health and in October 2012 he experiences a panic attack so severe doctors initially diagnose him as having a heart attack.

The problem I had with the way he explains his divorce is the fact that there is no back-story about what led up to the divorce or any attempt to imagine what led to her sudden change of heart.

He has had a fascinating life – he was poor, he was kicked out of the Navy, he set up his business from nothing and has successfully built a business empire while dedicating large amounts of money and time to charity.

So there is definitely an interesting book to be written about Bannatyne. Unfortunately, this is not it.