Kenya-born entrepreneur cashed ksh 26Bn from his UK online fashion business

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The Kenyan-born founder of one of Britain’s most loved online fashion companies has just sold £80 million worth of shares to expand its operations. Boohoo, a UK online fashion retailer founded in 2006, traces its origins to Kenya where its co-founder Mahmud Abdullah Kamani was born.

The company which turned over £294.6m last year and hopes to hit £3 billion sales within seven years, is now valued at a staggering £2.8 billion, four times as much as one of the UK’s largest clothing high street chains Debenham’s. Mahmud Kamani was one of four children born to Abdullah Kamani, who left Africa in 1968 and moved his family to Manchester.

Mahmud Kamani at his Manchester HQ

Sold handbags

He supported his family by selling handbags on a market stall before investing in property and starting a textile business using family ties in Asia and Africa to help with sourcing clothing. Now Boohoo is one of the most recognisable fashion online businesses in the UK with a presence in the United States, Europe and Australia. The company also owns the Pretty Little Thing and Nasty Gal brands. These brands design, source, market and sell clothing, shoes, accessories and beauty products targeted at 16-30 year old consumers.

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‘Cutting-edge design’

The company says it combines “cutting-edge design with an affordable price tag,” adding that its success is down to “pushing boundaries for the past eight years to bring you all the latest looks for less. Our philosophy is pretty simple: we don’t take fashion or life too seriously.” Last week, shares in the company hit a record high – closing up 18 per cent at 260p on Thursday – after Boohoo said the money raised from the sale of new shares would be used to pay for a “supersite” warehouse, as the retailer attempts to meet rising demand for its clothing ranges.

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