Ultimo founder Michelle Mone OBE will lead a major government review on supporting business start-ups in disadvantaged communities.
The review will identify obstacles that prevent people in disadvantaged areas from becoming entrepreneurs, such as access to business networks and the lack of inspiring role models and mentors.
Mone left school with no qualifications at 15, had her first child at 18 and founded the Ultimo business in her twenties. She sold 80% of the business to Sri Lanka-based lingerie group MAS Holdings for an undisclosed amount in November last year.
Work and Pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: “Entrepreneurship can play an important role in supporting economic growth and creating jobs in our most disadvantaged communities. However, people living in these areas face a range of additional barriers they need to overcome in starting and growing businesses.
“We used to be known as a nation of shopkeepers. I want Michelle to report back to me on how we can encourage people of all backgrounds to take up this entrepreneurial spirit.”
Mone added: “I’ll be traveling across the UK from John O’Groats to Land’s End to talk to and listen to people and groups from all backgrounds. I want to learn about the barriers they are facing and what changes are needed.”
Ultimo promoted Petra Drali to the new role of managing director in June this year. She joined the company in October 2010 as commercial director.
Drali was previously international head of wholesale and business development for footwear business Kurt Geiger from January 2013 to October 2014.