Who is Mike Clare, the man selling three Solent Forts?

Dating back over 150 years the Solent Forts have survived wars, raves and the weather and now three of them are being put up for sale.Â

Saturday, 7th July 2018, 3:28 pm
Updated Tuesday, 17th July 2018, 6:43 pm
Mike Clare

The distinctive forts located off the coast of Portsmouth '“ known as Palmerston's Follies '“ have been renovated by their current owner Clarenco. 

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Three Solent Forts are up for sale '“ and could be yours for £11mÂ

Spitbank Fort and No Man's Land Fort have been turned into luxury hotels while Horse Sands Fort is now a museum. 

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But after transforming the forts, owner Mike Clare has decided to step back and put them up for sale '“ however they won't come cheap. 

So who exactly is the man who has put the Solent Forts up for sale? Here is everything you need to know. 


Mike Clare is an entrepreneur from Buckinghamshire. He started out working in the retail furniture industry and opened his own bed store at the age of 30 '“  the store was called Dreams. 

After founding this first store in 1987, Mr Clare expanded the company growing it into 200 superstores over the next 20 years. 

Dreams is best known for specialising in beds, mattresses, bedroom furniture and bed linen and has stores in Portsmouth, Waterlooville and Havant. 

In 2008, after 21 years in the hot seat, Mr Clare sold most of his shares and stepped down as chairman and CEO. 

Next step

Despite stepping down from Dreams, Mr Clare decided he wasn't ready for retirement and launched a new company Clarenco LLP in 2009. 

The company channelled his love of unusual and iconic properties and now has a portfolio of  unique venues such as towers, châteaus, forts and monasteries, including the Solent Forts and Ackergill Tower, '“ which is on the northernmost tip of Scotland. 

Clarenco bought Spitbank Fort in 2009 beginning work to renovate it into a luxury hotel, which finally opened in 2012. 

Then in the same year Mr Clare and Clarenco bought No Man's Land Fort and Horse Sands Fort. 

Clarenco has various property divisions including commercial '“ including Dreams head office - residential and estates as well as Amazing Venues which includes Solent Forts. 

These properties are now all open to the public as individual hotels specialising in exclusive use events such as weddings, corporate (conferences), parties and themed events.

Mr Clare also owns an investment company called Cygnus LLP which invests in a variety of UK companies.