Together they are worth billions - but who are the city's retail movers and shakers?

Manchester is the undisputed online fashion capital of the UK. We called it years ago. 

Operating out of offices in the Northern Quarter, Ancoats and nearby in Salford, are some of the biggest names in the affordable fashion industry. Together they command millions of customers worldwide, and equally make millions (and in some cases billions) each year. The success has been infectious. So much in fact, we've counted more than fifteen successful e-commerce businesses based in the city.

And Manchester makes the ideal setting. After all, the city was dubbed 'Cottonopolis', due to the city's control of the global cotton industry with over 80% of the world trade in the finished material passing through the Royal Exchange. Yet Manchester's rag trade has changed considerably since it created the world's first steam driven textile mill. It’s gone digital. It's fast. A little too fast. Trend-led e-commerce sites now rule the roost in the age of convenience, with no sign of slowing down. 

Lead by retail family dynasties, high-school dropouts, bedroom entrepreneurs, ex-footballers and reality stars, we've listed some of Manchester's most successful retail tycoons. 

*recent figures by reputable sources

Mahmud Kamani and Carol Kane - 

Key figures: net worth £2.6 billion. In 2018 boasts sales of £183million and a stock market valuation of nearly £2.5 billion.

Thirteen years from its conception, is now an industry leader in the fast fashion market. Now topping the British rich lists as one of the wealthiest people in the North West, its co-founder Mahmud Kamani and entrepreneurial family are said to be worth a billion - a family retail legacy which began with a market stall. Whilst working at his father's successful clothing supplier company, 53-year-old Kamani partnered with talented renowned designer and 'proper Northern lass' Kane back in 2006 to sell clothing online for the captive youth market - the rest, as they say, is history. Today, as the UK high street struggles in a competitive and ever-changing market, recently witness a massive sales boom, cementing its position as one of the UK’s most influential online retailer.

19 01 28 Boohoo Founders Mahmud Kamani And Carol Kane founders Mahmud Kamani and Carol Kane

Umar and Adam Kamani - Pretty Little Thing

Key figures: PLT recorded a 228% rise in sales to £181.3 million in April 2018

It appears entrepreneurial spirit is a Kamani birthright. Sons of Boohoo mastermind Mahmud Kamani, 30-year-old Umar launched Pretty Little Thing alongside brother Adam Kamani in 2012. The company - which has headquarters in Manchester, London and LA - was purchased by in 2016. Since acquisition, it witnessed a 95% sales surge in the latter half of 2018, as it conquered the 16-34 youth market with trend-led clothes and big name collaborations. Masters of influencer marketing, Pretty Little Thing was recently ranked as the most engaging brand of 2018 with more than seven million captive social media followers. An influencer in his own right, Umar has attracted over 500,000 Instagram followers for his lavish lifestyle posts. Kamani admits he was an 'amateur playboy' before he began business and today his hedonism is more 'work' than play.

Pretty Little Thing

19 01 28 Umar Kamani 2
Umar Kamani

Nitin Passi - Missguided 

Key figures: Missguided was valued at £700m in 2017 and recorded £200m in sales during 2018

Founded in 2009 after a family loan, online fashion venture Missguided enjoyed a meteoric rise in the years that followed. 36-year-old Nitin Passi - who topped the British Asian rich list in 2016 - is said to have launched the e-commerce site from a warehouse in Prestwich. After doubling its profits and expanding internationally, Missguided is said to be worth approximately £700 million (as of 2017), and operates from a impressive 300-person office in Salford Quays (which includes blossom tree, a 'selfie tunnel' and a pink room). Targeting the 'socially immersed' generation, Missguided is a dab hand at promotion - it's hard to find a taxi or billboard without its unmistakable logo. Although 2018 was a rocky year for the company, with a reported £46 million losses, Missguided anticipates 'returning to historic levels of profitability' in 2019.


19 01 29 Nitin Passi Missguided
Missguided's Nitin Passi

Victoria Molyneux - Want That Trend

Key figures: £7 million in yearly revenue

It's safe to say Victoria Molyneux's career had a humble beginning. After leaving high school with no qualifications, an ambitious Molyneux began her e-commerce business while pregnant in 2015. In just a year, the businesswomen raked in close to £2.9 million after her 'Christmas swing dress' was widely popular - did we mention she sold via Facebook? Known for its attainable approach to fashion, Want That Trend is on the continued upswing and is now earning an estimated £7 million in yearly revenue.

19 01 28 Want That Trend Founder
Want That Trend founder Victoria Molyneux with ambassador Katie Piper

Adam Frisby - In The Style 

Key figures: £40 million turnover

With no business plan and no major investment, Adam Frisby's route to starting his multi-million pound company wasn't typical. After a string of jobs, he was made redundant in 2015 with a £1000 pay-off which he used to buy six dresses and launch the In The Style website. In just three months the brand began making a stir on social media, inspiring collaborations with reality stars such as Charlotte Crosby, Lauren Pope and Binky Felstead. Today, operating from an impressive Salford base, In The Style is raking in a £40 million turnover. Speaking to Fashion United, Frisby revealed plans to grow the business internationally: "the UK is about 85% of our business currently, but 15% is international, and we’re looking to grow that to 20/25% over the next year. We’re looking at the US, Australia, and areas of Europe."

In The Style

19 01 29 Adam Frisby With Dani Dyer
Adam Frisby with latest collaborator Dani Dyer

Tayyab, Qasim, Ateeq, and Bilal Akhlaq - Public Desire

Key figures: reportedly on track for a £50 million turnover within the next three years.

Public Desire began as an Ebay and Amazon store in 2007 by four brothers—Tayyab, Qasim, Bilal and Ateeq Akhlaq. After deciding to tap into the profitable millennial market, they officially launched their trend-led shoes and accessories site in 2014. With over 1 million followers on Instagram, they've commanded an international customer base with a reported 'split of 50% UK sales, 25% to the US and the remaining 25% to the rest of the world'. According to the Business Desk, Public Desire employs around 50 staff and is targeting year-on-year organic growth of around 20%. 

Public Desire

19 01 28 Public Desire X Hailey Baldwin
Public Desire's campaign with model Hailey Baldwin

Lee Bloor and Matthew Newton - Lavish Alice

Key figure: made £8 million in 2017 after expanding into China

Lavish by name and nature, one of Manchester's original online retailers continues to report impressive growth. Partners Lee Bloor and Matthew Newton began Lavish Alice in 2009 'with just a printer and a laptop' after taking a gamble during university. They also started local public relations outfit Label PR and used contacts to communicate their own brand. After bought their first collection they reinvested in Lavish Alice and expanded the range. The duo revealed the company has 'no outside investment, family handouts or shareholders. They've recently tackled the lucrative Chinese market and collaborated with Chinese movie star Liu Shishi - this international move earned them £8 million.

Lavish Alice

19 01 28 Lavish Alice
Lavish Alice December campaign

Ash Kumar -  Native Youth 

Key figure: sold in 30 countries worldwide

Ash Kumar began Native Youth back in 2012 initially as a 30-piece menswear collection. It has since grown to include womenswear and accessories in the brand's signature laid-back silhouette - a nice alternative to the typical fast-fashion aesthetic. Native Youth is now available to buy in over 30 countries worldwide; including Japan, UK, USA and South Korea. Kumar, a Manchester Metropolitan graduate, started his fashion career working at his family-run high street fashion house, Influence. Influence was founded in the 1970s by Kumar’s grandmother, and is now run by Kumar and his brother Sanjeev, who are both directors. Back in 2017, Native Youth won Draper's prestigious 'Young Fashion Brand of the Year' award for its 'international growth, strong identity and “amazing” marketing'.

Native Youth

19 01 28 Native Youth Founder Ash Kumar
Native Youth founder Ash Kumar

Reece Wabara - Maniere De Voir 

Key figure: estimated worth £1.3 million

Venturing into the fashion industry is not unusual for footballers - at least where Beckham and Ronaldo are concerned. Yet for former Manchester City footballer, Reece Wabara, it was a matter of go big or go home. Wabara set up his online label Maniere De Voir - which means 'ways of seeing' in French - back in 2014 alongside his football career. After his footballing pursuits ended in 2017, his label kicked off and now sees an impressive £1 million turnover each year. Featuring affordable luxe menswear and womenswear, Maniere De Voir is also popular with his peers such as Jesse Lingard and boxer Anthony Joshua.

Maniere De Voir

19 01 28 Reece Wabara
Maniere De Voir founder Reece Wabara

Seema and Sandeep Malhotra - Forever Unique 

Key figure: Spears estimated worth £2.6 million

Cheshire's Seema Malholtra had a vision of creating occasion-wear fit for nineties supermodels when she started her fledging brand Forever Unique in 2008. A trained designer who studied at the University of Salford, Seema went on to design a capsule collection of ten dresses and 'within one week Seema’s designs had sold out'. Today, Forever Unique has expanded to include up to 200 pieces available to purchase online and various stockists. The glamorous label, seen on the likes of Nicole Scherzinger and Kate Middleton, has estimated to have given the Malhotras a net worth of £2.6 million. It was of course her stint on ITV reality show Real Housewives of Cheshire which propelled Malhotra into the spotlight.

19 01 28 Forever Unique Seema
Forever Unique's Seema and Sandeep Malhotra

Adeel Fiyaz - EGO shoes 

Key figure: generated £2.5m in revenue from Instagram alone 

EGO shoes was originally founded as a bricks-and-mortar store over ten years ago in Liverpool and Manchester by Mohammed Fiaz. The company was later taken over by son Adeel Fiaz, who launched the website in May 2015 after gaining interest on Instagram. It's been less than five years of the Ego Official e-commerce site but the brand is growing from strength to strength with the help of influencers such as Kendall Jenner and Little Mix. Last year, Fiyaz revealed to The Daily Mail the brand made £2.5 million in sales from Instagram alone - a 'small fraction' of the brand's total earnings. 

EGO shoes

19 01 28 Ego Official Shoes
Ego Official shoes

Ross Worswick - Couture Club 

Key figure: £15m turnover every year

It's safe to say Couture Club boss Ross Worswick is well known in Manchester and beyond. After a stint on MTV reality show Ex on the Beach in 2014, Worswick turned his hand to the fashion industry. In the same year, Worswick paired up with business partner Scott Shashua and began his street conscious menswear brand. After opening bricks and mortar stores in Trafford Centre and Dublin, the brand has since seen a £15m turnover each year - an unexpected result. Speaking to Now magazine, Worswick said: 'The first year of the business I got the usual things like, “Just another reality star starting a brand, let’s see how long this one lasts”‘I don’t think many people take you seriously but for me that meant less distractions and more time to knuckle down and grow the business. If anything, the comments and lack of belief drove me to work harder and prove everyone wrong.’

Couture Club

19 01 28 Ross Worswick Couture Club Founder
Ross Worswick

Nathan Alexander - BODA Skins

Key figure: £3.5m yearly turnover

While its peers have conquered the fast-fashion online market, BODA skins favours investment style in the form of handcrafted leather jackets. Manchester-born CEO Nathan Alexander founded BODA Skins back in 2013 after a move to Turkey in his early twenties. After a relationship breakdown, he was inspired to start his business designing luxury jackets handcrafted by family-run leather artisans. Selling via the online store and selected stockists, BODA Skins was originally launched in Manchester without any outside investment. Now, BODA Skins is a £3-5m turnover business. Fans of the brand include Justin Timberlake to Jonny Depp. In recent reported news, Nathan invested '£500,000 in new premises in Salford and employs 30 people from around Greater Manchester, including apprentices who receive specialist training'.

BODA Skins

19 01 28 Boda Skins Nathan Alexander
Nathan Alexander