From a £5000 loan from his parents to open a retail store specialising in quick turnarounds of fashion, to expanding to 900 stores national and internationally with an estimated net worth of half a billion? This is Tom Singh.
Early Years & Childhood
Tom’s parents migrated from Punjab to England in the late 1940’s when Tom was a baby. His family, in one way or another, were always in the retail industry, one in which he grew up in.
“When my grandfather came to the UK, he was a landless poor person in the Punjab, wasn’t educated, ended up in Somerset, going door-to-door with a bicycle selling to the farming community. If you look at his challenges compared to mine, it’s tenfold. He graduated to having a van and then opened a drapery shop. My whole upbringing was involved in trading.”
Tom would spend his school holidays with his grandfather in the van going about trading.
Tom went to Wellington School before earning a degree in international politics and geography from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.
In 1969, Tom founded what would go on to become the UK fashion retail chain New Look in Taunton, Somerset, starting with a loan from his parents of £5000. Focusing on strategy and product, Tom served as Non-Executive Director of the business, intentionally choosing not to deal with the responsibilities that usually come with being a CEO.
“If you get the product right, the company is successful.”
Whilst spending almost 35 years in the retail industry, Tom has since pursued family interests and investments through ‘The Singh Family Trust’, which span: retail, technology, real estate, renewable energy sectors and private equity.
“My parents had built up a chain of 25 stores. I had built up a chain of 25 stores, and so we put them together. They felt their half of what they’d built was for their children, so I had the responsibility of being the guardian of what they wanted to leave to my brothers and sisters.”
In addition to his business ventures, Tom is the Chairman of the UK Advisory Council for the ‘British Asian Trust’ and is a trustee of the ‘Pakhar Foundation’. The Singh Family Trust maintains strong links with India and The Family’s ongoing charitable activity includes projects with education, water, agriculture and health.