2015: No.44 - £81m
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If Dudley Taylor hadn’t endured the privations of a pharmaceutical apprenticeship in Truro , Cornwall, in the 1930s, then the successful chain of Dudley Taylor Pharmacies may never have been born.

In tiny lodgings, working by the light of an oil lamp, hungry most of the time with tripe and onions the gastronomical highlight of the week, working up to 12 hours a day, six days a week, things were not easy for the young Dudley Taylor. But he stuck at it and now, more than 70 years later, Warwick-based Dudley Taylor Pharmacies is a multi-million pound company with branches stretching from Cornwall to South Yorkshire. The business is now run by Dudley Taylor’s sons Christopher and Michael.

After the war, in which he served with the RAF, Dudley Taylor worked for Boots and for private pharmacies before opening his first shop in Brentford using £1,000 borrowed from his father. Another pharmacy, this time in Kenilworth, followed soon after.

He established a number of partnerships, largely in the Midlands and Wales, and the chain grew as a thriving retail and wholesale chemist’s chain with branches around the country. In 2000 the operation sold off around 80 shops to Moss Pharmacy, now Alliance Boots, for £68 million leaving the company to concentrate on around 25 core Midlands and Welsh outlets. Further expansion has doubled this number .

Now, under the direction of Christopher, aged 61, and Michael, who come from a family of seven children, the Dudley Taylor Pharmacies chain continues to flourish, with 2012-13 sales of almost £55 million generating a £7.2 million profit. While the business is run from its Wedgnock Lane headquarters, the company ethos is to give its branches a high degree of autonomy, allowing each to develop its own character and its focus on the local community.