Kelly hitchhiked around the world before joining Rank Xerox sales in 1981. In 1987 he set up a recruitment company, shortly followed by an Apple dealership in 1988. In 1991 he set up an ISP and then in 1993 Softcat was born.

Softcat aims to be an extension of a company’s IT department, by giving access as either standalone technical services, on-going managed services or a combination of both. Utopian ideals of a happy workforce equals happy, satisfied customers have proven a powerful guiding principle for Softcat and ensured not only staff loyalty and performance, but a consistently ascendant bottom line.

Over the past five years turnover has risen from just over £113m in 2009 to just short of £400m in 2013, with profits keeping pace. Kelly’s unofficial title before retiring in July 2012, was ’minister of fun’. He ensured that team bonding did not finish at the end of the working day.  Fun incentives are offered to the staff and top performers are well rewarded with trips to far flung places as well as meals at fancy restaurants.

Softcat has been voted 4th in the Best Place to Work List (for 50-499 employees). CEO Martin Hellawell said: “What Softcat has to offer to the market is not unique. So the only way we can differentiate ourselves is with customer service. It’s as simple as that. It’s why we’re successful. And we do that because we have staff who love Softcat.“  The direction originated with Peter Kelly and continues to this day.

Quote: “I just care that people are happy.“

Year of Birth: 1957

Residence: High Wycombe

Business: Softcat – founder, retired as chairman 2012. Providers of standalone and managed IT services

Business Location: Marlow – head office, London, Manchester and Bristol

Worth: Kelly remains a 55% shareholder in Softcat. Worth estimated at £140 million*

Turnover and year: £395.8m in 2013

Description: Kelly describes himself as a “weird and eccentric entrepreneur“. He has been guided by the mantra of “work should be fun“ and built a hugely successful business