John Caudwell, businessman

John Caudwell, businessman

By BBC Radio 4

John Caudwell is a businessman and philanthropist who founded the mobile phone company Phones 4U in 1996. It became the UK’s largest independent mobile phone retailer and made him one of Britain’s most successful businessmen.

John was born in Birmingham and grew up in Stoke-on-Trent. He came up with his first business venture when he was five – he sold his toys to the other children in his neighbourhood. After he left school he became an apprentice engineer at the Michelin Tyre Factory, but the hunger to have his own business drove him on. In his spare time he set up a variety of enterprises from a grocery store to a mail order business selling motorcycle clothing.

In 1980 he set up a car dealership with his brother Brian and a few years later spotted a mobile phone in use at a car auction. Although the phone was heavy and cumbersome, John saw the potential of cellular technology and set up his own retail business, starting off with 26 phones which took him almost a year to sell.

In 2000 he set up Caudwell Children, his charity which helps children with disabilities, and remains its largest single benefactor. He was one of the first people in the UK to sign up to Bill and Melinda Gates’s Giving Pledge, vowing to give away 70% of his wealth during his lifetime. In 2006 John sold the Caudwell Group for £1.5 billion.

DISC ONE: Bennie and the Jets by Elton John DISC TWO: She Loves You by The Beatles DISC THREE: Bring Him Home by Alfie Boe and the cast and orchestra of Les Misérables DISC FOUR: Maggie May by Rod Stewart DISC FIVE: My Way by Frank Sinatra DISC SIX: Bat out of Hell by Meat Loaf DISC SEVEN: Fix You by Coldplay DISC EIGHT: Truly Madly Deeply by Savage Garden

Book: A Desert Island Survival manual Luxury: Sunblock CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Fix You by Coldplay

Presenter Lauren Laverne Producer Paula McGinley

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