New Dragons' Den guru has loss-making business

Emma Woollacott

The newest Dragon to join the BBC's Dragons' Den has failed to make a profit on one of her own business ventures, running up losses of £642,634.

Along with her husband Michael, business guru Sarah Willingham (pictured, middle) launched Let's Save Some Money in July 2011 - but has neglected to actually make any. According to the Daily Mirror, the online firm, which offers money-saving tips and consumer finance deals, lost £262,869 in 2012 and £379,765 in 2013.

Shareholders have since injected £594,103 into the company, of which Willingham and her husband hold 57%.

Willingham is best-known for turning the Bombay Bicycle Club into the largest chain of Indian restaurants in the UK, which she sold in 2007 for £2.8 million.

She also has two other businesses - London Cocktail Club and PAF Ventures - which have made £248,000 between them.

Willingham joined the dragons last week, along with Nick Jenkins, founder of online personalised greeting card website, and Touker Suleyman, who owns fashion brands Hawes & Curtis, Ghost and Low Profile Holdings.

"I've been at the coalface with every business I've ever launched and I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty and do what it takes to help small businesses grow," she says. "I know what it takes to turn a great business concept into a thriving enterprise."

As a source pointed out to the Mirror, few businesses make much of a profit in the first couple of years, and Let's Save Some Money is now believed to have edged into the black. All the same, it's something of an embarrassment.

But then the dragons don't always get it right. In 2006, for example, they turned down the chance to invest in the Trunki, a child's suitcase on wheels that made inventor £10 million in 2013.

Similarly, the dragons called John Richardson's claims for his anti-ageing face cream 'Poppycock' - but have since seen it sell more than 35,000 bottles in 15 countries.

And have you ever bought a glass of wine in a handy plastic cup to drink on the train home? If so, then you're doing something that the dragons said would never catch on. "People do not want to buy wine in plastic glasses like that," dragon Duncan Bannatyne told packaging expert James Nash.

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