The Range is a chain of stores which offers products for the home, garden and general crafting. There are now more than 100 stores across the United Kingdom, and the founder behind them is Chris Dawson.

Dawson was born into a family that knew a little about business already, and his father used to sell seafood from his van to the local people in Plymouth. Dawson joined him in doing this when he was young, and before long, he was selling jewellery, watches and perfume to customers out of nothing but a suitcase. Even before this, he had made some extra cash by selling cups of tea to builders on construction sites near the town where he lived. Although he attended school, he missed a lot of classes and struggled due to dyslexia. When he was just 15 years old, he left school altogether and didn’t really gain any formal qualifications. He wasn’t academically clever, but realised that he had a way with words and could haggle down the price of things he wanted to buy. He bought a motorcycle when he was a teenager and managed to talk the seller into giving him a discount of half a crown. While still at school, he took home the scrap metal from one of the classrooms and ended up selling it to make himself some money. Dawson’s teacher told him back then that he would either go to prison or become very rich when he was older. After leaving school, he started dealing scrap metal and discovered his knack for sales.

In 1989, when Chris Dawson was 37 years old, he finally had enough money to set up Chris Dawson Superstores, also knows as CDS. He had spent more than twenty years dipping in and out of different ideas – selling things to customers on the beach or in the streets, and he had got enough money together to try a larger venture. However, it wasn’t the name CDS which he eventually became known for. Using a very similar idea, nevertheless, he started a separate store called The Range Home, Garden and Leisure. This was essentially an outlet store where people could buy things for their homes and gardens at a cheaper price. Customers could buy jewellery, items for their homes, toys for their children and accessories for DIY around the house.

Up until this point, the store had been exclusively in Plymouth, but he opened one in Cardiff in 2000. This was situated in a business park, and Dawson decided to buy the entire area as another business project. CDS Group Services was eventually born, which was a shop fitting company with several large clients. Among these clients are LUSH, Levi’s and Lego.

Since becoming a successful entrepreneur, Chris Dawson has managed to influence other businesses and young people. He has returned to his childhood school, Hooe Primary School, to speak to the students there about business. Since he struggled himself at school, he can sympathise with other children who might be finding it tough to get through their early education years. In 2012, he was an ambassador for the Channel 4 Jobs Report, and the previous year, he had spoken with the Prime Minister of the UK at the time, David Cameron, about the issues which small and large businesses were facing in the country.

The most fascinating fact about Chris Dawson

Possibly the most fascinating fact about Chris Dawson is that he cannot read or write. He has stated that he has never in his life read a book or written a letter, and does not communicate with his employees via email or letters. Instead, he phones them at any time of the day or night if he needs to tell them something or let them know about an idea he has had for one of his companies. For many people, this comes as great inspiration, and as Dawson himself has said, you don’t necessarily have to be smart or lucky in order to become successful in the world of business – you simply need to try hard and ‘be the best’.

You simply need to try hard and ‘be the best’

In 2011, Chris Dawson was named the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year. The award is given each year to a successful business person who is making waves in the world of business. There are four different areas of the UK in which the award is given, and Chris Dawson won the award for London and South. Entrepreneurs are nominated to win the award, and all winners compete the following year for World Entrepreneur of the Year.

Chris Dawson didn’t just set up The Range, however. He founded several other businesses in other industries, including property, waste management and dry cleaning. As of 2013, he had a total worth of £585 million and £1.75 billion by 2016.

At the end of 2016, the newest The Range store opened in Swansea, Wales. Chris Dawson also announced plans to expand the business outside of the UK, and eventually open approximately a thousand stores across the whole continent of Europe.

Chris Dawson had considered floating The Range on the stock market in 2016 – a move which could have made him around £1 billion. However, he also said that he started the business out of passion, and since he wasn’t ready to retire yet, he was hesitant to sell the company merely for the sake of making money. After the UK’s referendum result when the majority of the country voted to leave the European Union in June 2016, Dawson decided to keep his company since the economic situation was too volatile.

Chris Dawson married Sarah, and together they had two children. Now, the whole family works for The Range, which has a total of 149 stores across the country as of 2016. In his spare time, Dawson enjoys spending time in the southern parts of France, and he enjoys riding motorcycles, a past time which dates back to his teenage years when he bought his first vehicle.