Hours after learning that her affair with Matt Hancock was about to be exposed, Gina Coladangelo was spotted loading a car with bags and leaving her Wandsworth home.
She was not packing up alone: her husband, Oliver Bonas founder Oliver Tress, cut a stoic figure as he helped her load the boot of her £70,000 Audi Q7. So who is Tress, Coladangelo’s husband of 12 years and father of her three children?
From his humble business beginnings to his ex-girlfriend’s royal connections, this is everything you need to know about the man who’s found himself at the centre of the scandal.
Who is Oliver Tress?
Tress’ upbringing is fitting for the founder of an upmarket lifestyle chain popular with the middle classes. The 54-year-old - known as Olly to his friends - was born in Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire to a banker and a housewife and lived a “blissful life” moving from country to country with his parents. “We were living in Sudan when I was born and from there we went to Nigeria, New York, the Netherlands, Zambia and South Africa, so I’ve been very lucky in that respect,” he told The Independent in 2012.
Tress studied at Marlborough College in Wiltshire. Other former students include the Duchess of Cambridge, Jack Whitehall and Emerald Fennell. He went on to study anthropology at Durham University and was known for his habit of bringing gifts back from his travels for his friends or selling them at country fairs or charity events.
While his friends were interviewing for corporate graduate schemes, he was reportedly selling watches from his living room - the inspiration for his first retail store, which he opened on Fulham Road in 1993, selling handbags and jewellery he’d bought in Hong Kong, where his parents were living at the time. “The corporate life just wasn’t for me,” he told The Daily Telegraph in 2016, recalling how all his friends were interviewing for grad schemes or “proper jobs”.
“I did one interview and we [the interviewer and I] agreed within about a minute that I didn’t want the job. I thought that being in a corporation of any size was restrictive. To have limitless possibility, you have to do something on your own,” he continued.
Tress has since reminisced about how his idea was born from his travels. “I’d been bringing presents back for friends and they were really popular so I thought, ‘I wonder if I can make a go of this?’” He has admitted he “had no idea what [he] was doing” but “to my amazement it just worked.”
The store was named after Tress’ girlfriend at the time, Anna Bonas (cousin of Prince Harry’s ex-girlfriend Cressida Bonas, who has been pictured with an Oliver Bonas clutch bag over the years), and “she very kindly hasn’t demanded that I changed it”, he once revealed.
He moonlighted as the store’s cashier when it first opened, using a second-hand till and hiring close friends to help with the refurbishment, and says that aside from the birth of his first child, the most “euphoric” moment of his life was the end of the first Saturday in his shop. “When sales surpassed all my expectations and I realised an exciting future lay ahead of me,” he told The Independent in 2012.
He says a Hans Christian Anderson quote (’Just living is not enough: one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower’) is at the core of what he does. “It touches on the human experience - you can’t just get up, eat, go to bed,” he told The Telegraph in 2016. “You’ve got to have experiences. As a business, our role is to be the little flower - or we might as well give up and go home.”
Tress no longer handpicks the items himself - most gift, homeware and furniture products are now designed in-house - and the homemade feel clearly proved a winning formula. The chain is now a multi-million pound business, but it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. Oliver Bonas’ sales plummeted by 20 per cent in December 2008 amid the financial crisis, and during the London riots of 2011, Tress was badly beaten by looters outside one of his stores on Northcote Road in Battersea, requiring hospital treatment for head injuries.
“I just can’t fathom what happened,” he told The Telegraph after the attack. “My experience was that it [the looting] was known about and nothing was done about it. To me that just seems like the police haven’t done their job.”
Tress likes to treat his staff well - and clearly it pays. In 2015, his company became the first UK high street chain to pay its staff the living wage in 2015, which Tress said reflected “hard work, loyalty and the real cost of living”. In 2019, a £15 million HSBC loan enabled him to open eight more stores. There are now 85 across the UK, mostly in London and the south of England.
According to accounts, the company made a £2.7 million profit in 2019 and Tress is estimated to have a net worth of around £12 million.
How did he meet Gina Coladangelo?
Coladangelo and Hancock met while studying PPE at Oxford University, but little is known about how she met her husband. She and Tress married in 2009 and Coladangelo has spent recent years working as the marketing and communications director for her husband’s firm alongside her work for the Department of Health and Social Care.
The couple have three children together, who have been pictured on Oliver Bonas’ official Twitter account over the years. The family moved from their home in Clapham Junction to a £4 million, five-bedroom Edwardian house in Wandsworth in 2015, where they employ a live-in nanny. “On the walls are bright chevron patterned frames and prints of quote art; a retro wooden chest with painted drawers sits in the corner of the kitchen with a fish tank bubbling above,” according to a writer for the Times who visited in 2014. “In the living room, a black and white tub chair sits next to a brass-topped coffee table with yellow legs that is soon to hit the shops.”
Tress is also known to own or have owned a second property near West Wittering beach in West Sussex, where his wealthy neighbours include Sweaty Betty founder Simon Hill-Norton.
Perhaps it was Tress’ fellow millionaire neighbour who inspired his own range of activewear: in January, his company launched OB Active, a collection of leggings, sports bras and other athleisure in a similar playful style to Sweaty Betty’s.
How has he responded to news of the affair?
Unlike Hancock’s wife Martha, little has been seen of Coladangelo’s husband since news of her affair.
The Oliver Bonas founder has kept out of the limelight following Friday’s bombshell announcement, but hours after being tipped off that his wife’s affair was about to be exposed last week, a bearded Tress was spotted outside his home in Wandsworth in grey trousers, a white shirt and canvas shoes as he helped Coladangelo pack her belongings into the boot of her car, a £70,000 Audi Q7.
Pictures show them having a conversation before she left but Tress did not leave with her. She is not believed to have returned to the home since.
Reports suggest Tress knew little - if anything - about the affair. Asked in 2012 who he admired, he said his wife, “who teaches me something new every day” and in 2016, he told The Telegraph his favourite way to unwind was to put the children to bed and have dinner with his wife.
“I imagine he is just falling apart over this,” a friend of his told the MailOnline following this week’s revelation. “He had no idea that this was happening. He trusted them both.”
Neighbours near their home in Wandsworth have since confirmed this. “Gina and Matt are giving it a proper go and Olly was left reeling,” one told the Daily Mail this week. “They had lots of friends here so we are all trying to help look after Olly.”