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At the age of thirteen, David Alliance was taken out of school by his father and apprenticed into the Grand Bazaar in Tehran, where he learned the business skills that were to prove invaluable in one of the most successful business careers of modern times. In 1950, with just £14 in his pocket, he arrived in Manchester in search of textile bargains, going hungry and sometimes forced to sleep on the street. Six years later, however, when he was still only twenty-four, he bought a loss-making textile mill, turned it around in six months and went on to build the biggest textile company in the Western world. At one stage his businesses, including his mail-order company, N Brown Group, employed more than 80,000 people. He did it through a mixture of incredibly hard work, creativity and nerve, and some of his takeovers, often of companies many times larger than his own, were breathtaking in their ingenuity. No obstacle was unscalable - his guiding principle all his life was that everything is achievable 'if you put your heart and soul into it'. Humble, charming and delightfully honest, Alliance's extraordinary rags-to-riches tale is not only that of a remarkable journey, but goes far beyond the world of business. Among many stories which have until now remained secret, Alliance tells of how he used the skills he learned in the bazaar to negotiate with the dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam to allow the Ethiopian Jews to be airlifted to Israel, his friendship with the Shah of Iran and the first-hand insight into the infamous Guinness affair. In A Bazaar Life, written with Ivan Fallon, he sets out the lessons he has learned in a long career, and the principles that have guided him. Young - and older - entrepreneurs can learn a lot from his story.
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