Charles Dunstone
Dunstone pictured in 2005.
Charles William Dunstone

(1964-11-21) 21 November 1964 (age 59)
Occupation(s)Executive Chairman, TalkTalk Group
Years active1989–present
Celia Gordon Shute
(m. 2009)

Sir Charles William Dunstone CVO (/ˈdʌnstən/ DUN-stən;[1] born 21 November 1964) is the British co-founder and former chairman of mobile phone retailer Carphone Warehouse, former chairman of multinational electrical and telecommunications retailer and services company Dixons Carphone (formed on 7 August 2014 by the merger of Dixons Retail and Carphone Warehouse), and executive chairman of the TalkTalk Group.

Early life

Dunstone was born in 1964, in the town of Saffron Walden in Essex. Dunstone was educated at Uppingham School, an independent school for boys (now co-educational), in the market town of Uppingham in Rutland, in Central England. Dunstone's father was an executive at BP.[2]


Carphone Warehouse

Main article: Carphone Warehouse

In 1983, having accepted an offer to study business at the University of Liverpool, Dunstone decided to defer his studies for a year and accept a sales job at Torch Computers in Cambridge. After a year, he decided to continue at Torch instead of pursuing his studies, eventually leaving for a sales position at NEC in 1986.[3]

It was whilst working at NEC, tasked initially with selling computers and then mobile phones, that he first spotted the potential of mobile phones and the future of mobile communications. At that time, handsets were large, cumbersome and mainly purchased by big business and large organisations. Corporate clients were well catered for but small businesses, the self-employed and the general public had nowhere to go. Dunstone realised that mobile phones would eventually become ubiquitous and left NEC in 1989 to start his own business serving this larger market.[3]

Naming his company The Carphone Warehouse (CPW), emphasising a broad choice of products and low prices, Dunstone first began selling mobile phones out of his flat on Marylebone Road in 1989. He was 25 years old and had £6,000 of savings to start his business.[3]

In July 2000, the company floated on the London Stock Exchange and based on an Issue price of 200p, the company was valued at approximately £1.7 billion.

In 2003 Carphone Warehouse established a subsidiary TalkTalk, from the assets acquired through the purchase of Opal Telecom in 2002. TalkTalk provided home phone and broadband into the UK market. TalkTalk aggressive pricing was disruptive to the market and grew its customer base rapidly. Growth was also through acquisition, purchasing, AOL, Tele2 and lastly the Tiscali ISP businesses in the UK, this led to the demerger of TalkTalk as a separate business in March 2010.

In December 2019, Dunstone purchased £10 million worth of shares in TalkTalk, meaning he now owns 29.5% of the company's stock.[4]

In May 2008, Best Buy, an American multinational consumer electronics corporation, and CPW agreed to create a new company, Best Buy Europe. Best Buy acquired 50% of CPW's European and US retail interests for a cash consideration of £1.1 billion or $2.1 billion. The assets of the newly formed company comprise CPW's existing retail business, operating from more than 2,400 stores in nine European countries under CPW and Phone House brands. These include the UK, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

CPW became the world's largest independent mobile communications retailer, but may now have lost this position.

In 2005 Dunstone's salary and bonus came to £689,000.[5] In the Sunday Times Rich List 2006 he was listed in 64th place, with an estimated fortune of £830 million.[6]

Dunstone employed the controversial ex-convict Ernest Saunders as a business consultant for Carphone Warehouse prior to its flotation.[7]


Non-executive director of HBOS PLC.[8] HBOS is the holding company for Halifax plc and the Governor and Company of the Bank of Scotland.
In 2005 Dunstone's fee was £56,000.[5]

The Daily Mail General Trust

non-executive director of the Daily Mail and General Trust.[8]
DMGT is one of the largest media companies in the UK and has interests around the world in national and regional newspapers, television, radio, exhibitions and information publishing.
In 2005 Dunstone's fee was £34,000.[5]

Independent Media Distribution PLC (now trading as Group IMD)

non-executive director of Independent Media Distribution PLC between January 2002 - May 2011[9]
IMD is a distributor of TV & radio advertising and for the television and music industries. Clients include ITV, MTV, L'Oreal and BSkyB.
In 2005 Dunstone's fee was £20,000.[5]

The Prince's Trust

Council Member of The Prince's Trust and former Chairman of its trading subsidiary, the Prince's Trust Trading Ltd.[8]
The Prince's Trust is a Registered Charity (in England) No 1079675. The Prince's Trust Trading Limited (a company registered in England No 3161821) is a wholly owned subsidiary and trades on behalf of The Prince's Trust. In their 2006 annual report, The Prince's Trust had a gross income of £56.8m and an expenditure of £40.8m.[10]


Dunstone is a major backer of discount online estate agency Strike.[11]


Dunstone has 3 A-levels, grades B,C & D.[2] He abandoned his business degree at Liverpool University after taking a gap-year with Torch Computers in Cambridge and then with NEC.[12]

Honours and awards

In 2005 Dunstone was awarded The Daily Telegraph's Business Person of the Year.[13]

He was made a Knight Bachelor in the 2012 Queen's Birthday Honours List 'for services to the mobile communications industry and to charity'.[14] In the 2015 Queen's Birthday Honours List, he was appointed Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) for his work with The Prince's Trust.[15]

Personal life

Dunstone established a charitable trust, which is the main sponsor of the Fulwood Academy school in Preston, Lancashire.[16]

In November 2013, the Prime Minister appointed Dunstone to the board of trustees of Royal Museums Greenwich.[17] Dunstone was reappointed in 2017 but resigned in February 2021 before the end of his second term.[18][19][20] He has donated to both the Labour and Conservative parties.[21]


Dunstone is married to Celia Gordon Shute, a public relations consultant.[22]

Dunstone is considered a member of the Chipping Norton set.[23] His hobbies include sailing, and he is the owner of the classic 64 m (210 ft) motor yacht Shemara.[24][25]


  1. ^ "Apps for Good Founder Talks - Charles Dunstone, Carphone Warehouse and TalkTalk". YouTube. 23 August 2013. Retrieved 2 November 2023.
  2. ^ a b Davidson, Andrew (16 May 2006). "Dunstone drives into broadband". The Times. London. Retrieved 3 November 2006.
  3. ^ a b c Pederson, Jay P. (2007). International Directory of Company Histories. Vol. 83. Thomson Gale. p. 55. ISBN 978-1-55862-587-7. Retrieved 28 February 2024.
  4. ^ Charkham, Jonathan; Simpson, Anne (27 May 1999), "The Development of the Joint Stock Company", Fair Shares, Oxford University Press, pp. 44–50, doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198292142.003.0005, ISBN 978-0-19-829214-2
  5. ^ a b c d "Annual Report 2005" (PDF) (Press release). The Carphone Warehouse. 2005. Retrieved 4 November 2006.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "Sunday Times – Rich List". Sunday Times. Retrieved 10 May 2011.
  7. ^ "Mobiles boss walks the polar walk and proves he is not all TalkTalk". The Times. London. 29 November 2004. Retrieved 3 November 2006.
  8. ^ a b c "Charles Dunstone". Entrepreneurs' Open Challenge. 2006. Archived from the original on 6 April 2009. Retrieved 5 November 2006.
  9. ^ "Sir Charles Dunstone". the marque.
  10. ^ "Extract from the Central Register of Charities maintained by the Charity Commission for England and Wales, Main Charity 1079675, The Prince's Trust". Charity Commission. 2006. Retrieved 5 November 2006.
  11. ^ "BREAKING: Purplebricks sold to Strike for just £1". The Negotiator. 17 May 2023. Retrieved 2 June 2023.
  12. ^ "Dial M for millionaire". The Observer. London. 11 September 2005. Retrieved 3 November 2006.
  13. ^ Miller, Robert (22 December 2005). "Dunstone clinches best in business". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 13 March 2008. Retrieved 6 November 2006.
  14. ^ "No. 60173". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 June 2012. p. 1.
  15. ^ "No. 61256". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 June 2015. p. B4.
  16. ^ "Academy boss makes rich list". Lancashire Evening Post. Johnston Publishing. 7 May 2011. Retrieved 10 May 2011.
  17. ^ "Prime Minister appoints Royal Museums Greenwich Trustee". GOV.UK. Retrieved 1 May 2021.
  18. ^ "The Prime Minister reappoints Sir Charles Dunstone to the Board of Royal Museums Greenwich (RMG)". GOV.UK. Retrieved 1 May 2021.
  19. ^ "Charles Dunstone quit museum post over government 'culture war'". Financial Times. 30 April 2021. Retrieved 1 May 2021.
  20. ^ Editor, Liam Kelly | Tim Shipman, Political. "Museums chairman Charles Dunstone quits after minister blocks trustee". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2 May 2021. ((cite news)): |last= has generic name (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  21. ^ The best connected man in business: Carphone Warehouse billionaire Charles Dunstone on Cameron, congestion and karma, Accessed 9 January 2023.
  22. ^ Quinn, James (10 October 2009). "Dunstone becalmed for island honeymoon". The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group.
  23. ^ Caroline Dewar (5 March 2012). "Who's who in the Chipping Norton set". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 6 May 2012.
  24. ^ Tatler "Charles Dunstone - Tatler". Archived from the original on 30 August 2012. Retrieved 30 August 2012.
  25. ^ Campbell, Stewart; Bonsor, Sacha (27 July 2015). "On board with Sir Charles Dunstone, owner of classic yacht Shemara". Boat International. Archived from the original on 26 November 2017. Retrieved 25 November 2017.