Charlie Mullins feels right. Plumbing tycoon has just sold his Pimlico plumbers company for £145million, bringing his net worth from the firm to £200million. Along the way, the outspoken entrepreneur has faced brickbats for everything from his views on politics, business, Covid and the environment. And he hasn’t forgotten his harshest critics.
“People say I don’t know what I’m talking about, ‘he’s just a plumber’ and all this s***, that ‘he’s a mugger,’” Mullins says. ‘Now what am I supposed to say, who is driving the Bentley and who is driving the Mini? I’ll always be a plumber, but now I’m a plumber with £200 million of money in his hands and, you know, he drives a Bentley and flies in a private jet and lives in the best hotels in the world. ‘
Looking around his apartment, Mullins has definitely put his money where his mouth is. Less it is not. There are framed photos of him with the last three prime ministers and signed photographs of the Queen, Prince Charles, soccer player Pele, singer Tom Jones – who lives above – and Mullins’ hero, Margaret Thatcher.
Inspired: Self-made millionaire Charlie Mullins, with a driver in his Bentley, says he flies in a private jet and stays in the best hotels in the world
Meanwhile, a glowing jukebox is set against a wall; Huge brightly colored quartz stones are everywhere; There is a statue of a skeleton in a bar holding two bottles of Mot & Chandon champagne; There is a sculpture of ice cream scattered on the floor; And a giant Paul Oz portrait of Winston Churchill with the V for Victory signed hangs in the living room. In front of his bedroom, across the Thames, is the large MI6 headquarters in Vauxhall Cross, which Mullins says makes him feel ‘very safe’.
In other words, self-made millionaires aren’t afraid to show themselves the success trap they take from working in the gutter to becoming a business tycoon.
‘It hasn’t been easy and there have been many casualties along the way. two divorces. I worked too hard,’ he laments, sipping a pink protein shake on an electric reclining couch. ‘What I have realized is that there are casualties to be successful – it could be your family, marriage, friends, mental state.’
The sale of the Pimlico empire he founded in 1979 surprised many in the business world. The 68-year-old has been a very public face of a firm that has been punched above its weight in terms of publicity because Mullins is so outspoken.
A sprinkling of stardust helped it along with Daniel Craig, Dame Helen Mirren and Simon Cowell among many of its celebrity clients.
“We performed better than last year. We proved we were Covid-proof as well as recession-proof and continued to grow,’ says Mullins. ‘The time is right to take it national and international, and if I had stayed it would have been another five years of my life. I didn’t want to leave it there in my compartment.’
Trademark: Pimlico plumber vans have become a common sight in London
He sold a 90 percent stake to Neighborly — an American home services group owned by private equity firm KKR — with his son Scott holding about 10 percent and the position as chief executive.
But just four weeks later, there’s already a tone of remorse from the seller.
‘I think I sold it very cheaply, if I’m being honest,’ says Mullins. They also have objections about the new owners, who beat out competition from suitors in the Middle East, France and the UK.
Making a point: Charlie signing V for Victory in his living room under a giant Paul Oz portrait of Winston Churchill
‘They won’t be able to run it as a family business and that’s a shame because so many people use it,’ he says.
‘If they dilute it and don’t offer the service people expect’ [Scott] Wouldn’t want to be around. The unfortunate thing is that Americans are not very individual, they are just low level people. i have people [inside the business] It is ringing left, right and middle to say that it is not the same.’
He says some employees have ‘jumped overboard because it’s no longer a family business.’ But with his luck, the way was cleared for Mullins to pursue political ambitions.
Last year, he scrapped plans to run for London mayor due to business commitments. He says: ‘I regret it. [Sadiq] Khan did nothing for London – he destroyed the streets. But I have to be 100 percent in it. If I’m still alive in four years’ time I’m going for it and you know who needs me in my corner? Nigel Farage. The geyser is fantastic. He is a winner and is smarter than he has been shown.’
Mullins will run on free travel tickets for trainees, eliminate congestion charges and ‘get rid of these bloody cycle lanes’. For matters of high rank, Mullins has switched camps. The staunch-Remainer and former Conservative Party donor was a supporter of Boris Johnson’s 2019 election campaign but now wants someone with a ‘business minded’.
‘He’s not the right guy anymore,’ Mullins says, shaking his signature mop of hair, which has more than a touch of Rod Stewart about it. ‘We need someone we can trust. He did so many U-turns and created uncertainty and didn’t send a strong enough message.
The Vista: In front of his bedroom, across the Thames, is the large MI6 headquarters in Vauxhall Cross, which Mullins says makes him feel ‘very safe’.
After sitting next to Sajid Javid over dinner, Mullins said the health secretary is ‘PM material all day’, adding: ‘He is very working class. Man has come from nothing and has a lot of common sense.’ Mullins believes one of the government’s biggest errors has been its confusing advice about working from home.
“I think it’s the biggest mistake since the war,” he says. ‘I mean, come on – you don’t build a great city like this,’ he points out the window down the Thames, ‘and…