David Alliance was born in 1932 C.E. to a religious Jewish family in the Darb-e Zanjir neighborhood of Kashan, Iran. His father, Eliahou (Elijah) Alliance was a bazaar businessman who made a living in the dyeing of wool and linen industry.
David Alliance received his elementary education at the Agha-Yeghoutiel School, the Kashan branch of the Alliance Israélite system. At 13, his father sent him to Tehran to advance his education and to bring in some extra income for the family. Until 1949, he worked at the Caravan-Sara-ye Amir, one of the chambers of the Bazaar of Tehran, as an assistant to Eliahou Setareh, a garments merchant. David showed his exceptional gifts especially in accounting, which put him evidently ahead of his colleagues. During this period, he spent his “free” time in the evening on academic studies. In 1950, he followed a friend’s suggestion and traveled to Manchester, England, in hopes of better business and career opportunities.
David Alliance borrowed £400 from his colleague and friend, Yousef Beroukhim, as an initial capital investment and for visa purposes, and he set out for England. Within days in Manchester, and despite a deficient knowledge of the language, he spent most of his efforts on collecting clothes samples and sending them to Iran for marketing. Awhile later, David Alliance began work at a towel-weaving factory, where his demonstrated diligence and benevolence earned him the management of this industrial unit. As the owner of the factory grew older, Alliance proposed instead to rent and run the factory all by himself. The owner accepted this offer. Eight years later, David Alliance bought the factory. Before long, he expanded his business ventures by founding a major retail company named the N. Brown, which did most of its business through mail orders of textile merchandise. Today, he is the president and the majority share holder of one of the largest direct sales companies in the Great Britain. The company offers more than 20,000 products through mail orders, and more than 7,000,000 families benefit from its services.
Among his other ventures, David Alliance founded an industrial unit named Coats Viyella, PLC., at a time when the textile business suffered a major crisis. However, thanks to his foresight and wise management, within a decade, the company had grown into the largest industrial unit of textile production in England. By the end of the 20th century, the company had more than 75,000 workers and other employees in hundreds of factories located in more than 60 countries. Over time, David Alliance further expanded his business endeavors by establishing insurance, banking, construction and engineering companies, so far as the business activities of each of these companies made an impact on the economic growth of England. Thus, by purchasing failed factories and converting them to major industrial and commercial institutions, David Alliance came to be known as the King of British Textile, the symbolic savior of the textile industry in Manchester.
David Alliance’s success in the textile industry went so far as during the 1980’s workers’ protests throughout the United Kingdom, none of the factories under his supervision went on strike. David Alliance was a major piece on the British economic board, especially in the 1970’s, when several of his productive business moves made him known not only as a successful British businessman, but also a Liberal-Democrat politician.
Lord David Alliance was honored in 1984 as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, for his valuable services to the British industries. In 1989, Queen Elizabeth II endowed him with a Knighthood for Sir David Alliance’s achievements in business and his significant impact on the British textile industry. He was further named a Life Peer as Baron Alliance of Manchester in 2004 (cf. Wikipedia.org under his name), when he was accepted by the Liberal Democrats as a politician and entered the House of Lords, the first Iranian to achieve this position. In his first speech at the House of Lords, he described himself as an example of an immigrant, as he remembered how he had come to England in 1950 with only £14 in his pocket, yet in the years since, through his business ventures, he had paid billions of pounds in taxes to the Treasury.
According to Lord Alliance, it’s been characteristic of him that at no time he assigned a task to anyone that he or his children could not do by themselves. Also, to achieve his goals in business, he didn’t aim to accumulate the wealth, but rather, he always tried to achieve excellence and optimize his field as fast as possible. In other words, what he did in life, especially in business affairs, it was not meant merely for personal gains, but also he considered how he could benefit the society and the overall economy. He believes that the progress and evolution of a healthy economy, one that can reach the global levels of trade, require political, economic and social securities. Besides, those who create the jobs in the first place, the experienced businessmen, the experts, they have their significant roles to play in this regard.
David Alliance married his maternal cousin, Alma Josephy in 1960, but the marriage ended in divorce after seven years. In 1987, he married Homa Sassony, and together they brought a son to the world. The second marriage too ended in divorce.
Lord Alliance has pursued his philanthropist interests side by side his economic and industrial endeavors, as he gives a priority to humanitarian efforts. In 2001, he endowed a $50,000 gift to Tehran Jewish Association, which combined with the efforts of Agha-jan Shadi and the cooperation of the City of Kashan, made it possible to rebuild the mausoleum of Moshe Halevy in that ancient city, thus providing a respectable building for Jewish pilgrims. He has recorded his name as a philanthropist figure in the history of Iranian Jews, thanks in part to such financial assistance that he’s offered to cultural, medical and social centers of the Iranian Jewish community. Among his other philanthropic activities, he participated in a humanitarian project to rebuild the Iranian city of Bam after a major earthquake.
As a man of knowledge in economics, a politician, and an informed and experienced businessman, and given his compassionate attributes, David Alliance has been recognized by several honorary degrees from accredited universities, as well as honorary awards from many cultural institutions and humanitarian organizations around the globe.
Currently retired, Lord David Alliance nevertheless continues his economic and social activities as an informed consultant. He has kept to this date the clothes which he wore when he arrived in England at the age of 17, for he believes that looking at them helps him never forget his past, his people, his homeland, his roots. In his 80’s, he continues to follow personally many of the economic and political issues, while his young son, albeit with a lesser experience, carries out many of his father’s responsibilities and manages the assigned tasks with success.
In 2015, David Alliance published his book A Bazaar Life, an autobiography centered around his struggles through life that led him to success, from his childhood in Kashan, and his years at the Agha-Yeghoutiel School, to the House of Lords. Originally in English, he later published the Persian translation of the book, as well.
Enayat Fani’s Interview with Lord David Alliance, Member of the House of Lords, From BBC Persian: Part 1: September 2015