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Theo is Awarded Retail Legend Award by the RetailTRUST

On the evening of the 31st January Theo, and many of his colleagues, attended the annual RetailTRUST event to celebrate the excellent work the Charity does for those in need in the retail industry. Theo has been part of the charity for many years, supporting the incredible work it does.

To help celebrate the work of the RetailTRUST, some well known faces took to the stage. The event was hosted by Rory Bremner, had a live auction by Charles Ross and included moving stories from individuals who had been helped by the Charity.  There was also an artist who created fantastic artwork of Freddie Mercury and John Lennon, that went on to be sold in the silent auction.

Occasionally the RetailTRUST recognises an individual who has made an extraordinary contribution to the Charity and industry as a whole, known as the Retail Legend award. The award goes to someone who has worked at every level of retail and supports both those on the shop floor and the boardroom.

This year Richard Bowland, CEO of the RetailTRUST, gave this prestigious award to Theo, highlighting his passion for the industry which has spanned over 40 years. Rory Bremner then spoke of Theo’s philanthropic work both to small businesses through #SBS Small Business Sunday and charities, such as raising over £4 million for Comic Relief with his businesses Ryman and Robert Dyas.

It was a fantastic evening which saw Theo join a list of very few to receive the Retail Legend award.

Theo Visits The Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital

Theo visited the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital to see the hard work that goes on day in, day out by the team and to see how the money raised from the Many Hands Campaign has been used to make a huge difference to the children who are treated at the hospital.

Theo visited Ward 78 which is the Spinal, Orthopaedic and Neurosciences ward where children suffering road traffic accidents, nervous injury and diseases are treated. Lisa Stephens, the Ward Manager, introduced Theo to the hard working team and got to speak to the children about their injuries and their care at the hospital.

After the tour of the Ward Theo was taken to see the Mini C Arm, it is a specialist piece of equipment that can take X Rays while the patient is on the operating table, so the surgeon can see exactly what is happening during the operation. The Mini C Arm had been funded by the Many Hands Campaign, and was a great opportunity to see how the money raised makes such a huge difference to the hospital.

After 10 years, 2018 was Theo’s final year with the campaign and it was a fitting way to end his journey with the charity by seeing how the campaign has changed lives.

Theo inaugurated as Chancellor of Solent University

On Thursday 11th October, Theo headed to Southampton where he was inaugurated as Chancellor of Solent University. On a day steeped in tradition, Theo was warmly welcomed by the Vice Chancellor, Graham Baldwin and many of the University’s representatives.

On arrival at Solent, Theo was able to chat to some of the local media about his new role and discuss his ambitions for the University. He mentioned that his motto for life is “be the best you can be” and he believes that Solent gives its Students the opportunity to do just that with its fantastic facilities and brilliant teaching staff.

Two students who are studying for a Multimedia Journalism degree at the University came to interview Theo. It was an opportunity to learn a bit more about student life, after which Theo even said “I wish I was a student here!”

At 6pm guests started to arrive which included friends, family and local business leaders who were greeted to a reception at the state-of-the art The Spark building which Theo opened in 2017. At 6.45pm the ceremony began with a precession onto the stage alongside many of the University leaders.

The ceremony was opened by the University Orator, Professor Peter Lloyd, which was followed by an address from the Vice-Chancellor which covered the fantastic progress the University has made in the last 10 years. The pro-chancellor and Chairman of the Board of Governors, Phil Cotton, then delivered the encomium for Theo, the formal welcome and introduction of Theo and his achievements. This was followed by the official inauguration which saw Theo receive his black and gold Chancellor gown.

The President of Solent Students’ Union delivered an address which welcomed Theo on behalf of the students and furthered the points raised by the Vice-Chancellor on how Solent has risen in all the newspaper league tables and achieved TEF Silver, in recognition of the University’s excellent teaching.

Newly inaugurated Chancellor, Theo, addressed the congregation announcing to the audience that he also felt like a fresher! He thanked the University for the brilliant work that they have done, recently  jumping 15 places in The Sunday Times University Guide.

Theo highlighted that at the heart of the University is ambition; the students, professors and the investment all being a reflection of that. He went on to talk about how Solent is not an Ivory Tower, but that is why Solent offers so much to its students with its real life ethos.

Theo also reflected on his own school experience, and noted the importance of the teaching staff and how it just takes one brilliant teacher to inspire a student.

As Chancellor, Theo will be the ceremonial head of the University and one of its most important ambassadors, representing the University externally, both nationally and internationally, working closely with the Vice-Chancellor and the Pro-Chancellor.

Commenting on the day Vice-Chancellor, professor Graham Baldwin, said: Vice-Chancellor, Professor Graham Baldwin, says: “Theo joins us at an exciting and challenging time for higher education. No stranger to Solent or the broader sector, with two of his daughters graduating from the University, I am confident Theo’s appointment will help to strengthen our position as a local and global institution.

“Solent plays a key role in supporting local and regional economies, sharing knowledge, skills and resources with the local community. With his knowledge and experience from industry, Theo will also help us to strengthen partnerships and further enhance our commitment to real world learning.”

Theo heads to Wimbledon BookFest to talk all things retail

On Wednesday 10th October Theo headed to Wimbledon BookFest on Wimbledon Common for an interview with James Ashton to talk about the current retail environment and the future of the high street.

In a location very well known to Theo, who regularly walks his dog Gladys on the Common, a beautifully lit stage greeted a packed audience full of local businesses and members of Merton Chamber. As the TPRG head office is just down the hill, some colleagues came along to hear Theo’s view on the latest news in retail.

James Ashton, a journalist who has been City Editor and Executive Editor of the London Evening Standard and before that City Editor of the Sunday Times, questioned Theo on the current retail climate, business rates and even took him on a trip down memory lane to where his passion for retail started, as a school boy running a tuck shop!

Brexit and politicians were also a key topic of the evening, with Theo commenting on the current confusion around Brexit and how politicians seem to be more interested in their careers than getting the job done!

After the interview, it was opened up to the floor where Theo was asked about the importance of the local community for business and how to attract the right candidates for jobs.

Wimbledon BookFest is a charity promoting arts, culture and education. Its aim is to develop the cultural offering for the local community through provision of an annual arts festival and educational projects with schools and young people.

Theo Judges the Premier League Enterprise Challenge Finals 2018

Theo once again supported the Premier League Enterprise Challenge, by judging the Finals at EY in London on 23rd April 2018. Fellow judges included Peta Bistany (Executive Office Director, Premier League), Graeme Le Saux (Former Premier League and England Defender) and new judge, Alex Scott (Arsenal Women’s Captain).

The aim of the overall competition, also in partnership with Sport Relief, is to provide Premier League and English Football League Clubs, schools and young people with the unique opportunity to compete against each other to pitch solutions to a specific football business challenge.

The participating Club finalists this year were from:
Wigan Athletic FC
Watford FC
Middlesbrough FC
Brighton & Hove Albion FC
Everton FC
Swansea City AFC

The event was hosted by CBBC and Guinness World Record TV presenter, Ben Squires.

Theo shared some words of wisdom to rally the troops ahead of their Dragons’ Den style pitches to him, and his fellow judges, in a pre-match talk!

Alongside their presentations to the judges, the finalists are also given an on the spot supplementary task to complete showing how they would gain support for their main idea with key stakeholders. The teams were judged on their adaptability, evidence of collaboration and their drive, which there was no shortage of on the day!

Due to the incredibly high standard this year, the judges couldn’t decide between two of the schools so for the first time ever there were double winners!

Congratulations to Lathom High School for Wigan Athletic FC and Broadgreen International School for Everton FC, who both did a fantastic pitch and wowed the Judges with their original ideas.

Lathom High School decided on an idea to help visually impaired spectators by providing headphones with full match commentary and tablets, so they can re-watch anything they may have missed on the field.

Broadgreen International School opted to look at how they could tackle the underrepresentation of BME and mixed faith fans attending matches. They planned to target key areas of Liverpool where 52% of the population are BME, recruit an Inclusion Ambassador and develop an educational training programme.

Commenting on the day Theo Paphitis said:

“The standard this year was exceptionally high and for the first time in 10 years we have a double winner! It has always been close but this year we had two very different but brilliant ideas that none of the judges would compromise on. Congratulations to both winners and to all the finalists who put a lot of hard work in and delivered some great pitches!.”

Congratulations to all involved and for all the hard work that went into the event and preparation!

Theo Visits Atlas Bar, 2017 Many Hands Campaign Winners!

As winners of the 2017 Many Hands campaign, Atlas Bar in Manchester also received a very special guest judge as a customer at their bar.  Having raised over £5,000 for the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital by selling Manchester Vigil Gin on a Manchester to London train on World Gin Day, Atlas Bar were crowned overall winners at the 2017 Many Hands final, in Manchester.  All of Atlas Bar’s proceeds went to the hospital and the cocktail created specially for the judges is still on sale in the bar today.

As part of their prize, it meant that judge Theo Paphitis also popped along to the bar for a cocktail and a catch up with the team.  Atlas Bar owners Elaine and Mark Wrigley were there to welcome Theo, along with their staff, and treated Theo to a History of Gin Masterclass to teach him all about the spirit’s origins. Theo tried the Four Pillars Gin, which was a very strong 58.8% ABV – also known as Navy strength !

The staff at the Manchester bar also had their own private Q&A session with Theo.

To find out more about the Many Hands charity

Theo hosts annual #SBS event

On Friday 23rd February, Theo welcomed hundreds of #SBS winners to the annual #SBS event held at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham. The event is a highly anticipated day where winners can network, hear from Theo, meet the sponsors and gain advice from guest speakers.

New for 2018 were games, prizes and quick-fire speed sessions with marketing and ecommerce experts helping the winners to grow their business. This was as well as special 10 minute 1-2-1 slots with the 8 sponsors Ryman, Robert Dyas, DHL, iLaw, 123Reg, Square, Western Union and HP where winners could network and gain advice about anything from product to international shipping and payment.

This year there was a specific focus on brand, with SuperBrands expert Stephen Cheliotis taking to the stage to teach the winners about the importance of brand within business.

The afternoon session saw Theo have a fireside chat with’s John Roberts. It was a fascinating session; winners found out about John’s journey from betting a friend £1 in a pub to an IPO worth 1.2bn! John offered advice on advertising, marketing and customer service even saying that the #SBS winners should treat every customer like their Nan!

Away from the main stage, winners were treated to breakout presentations by all of the sponsors with a strong focus on the upcoming GDPR rules and also some incredibly insightful and inspiring stories from #SBS winners themselves. Special networking areas were set up to help like-minded businesses network and exchange business cards which was hailed a fantastic addition to this year’s event!

Two reaction-based games were added this year with those highest up the leaderboad winning fantastic prizes, including an HP printer and tickets to the Liverpool and Brighton and Hove football match!

It was a fantastic day that finished with all the new winners receiving their certificates and photos with Theo – a great memory of the day and a great marketing tool to help them in the future.

If you would like to find out how you could be a #SBS winner, click here:

Theo and Peter Jones CBE sell Red Letter Days


30 November 2017

Following 12 years ownership of Red Letter Days, Dragons’ Den stars Theo Paphitis and Peter Jones CBE have successfully concluded a sale of the business to Smartbox Group, for an undisclosed sum.

Theo commented, “although not an official pitch this has undoubtedly been one of the most successful business ventures ever to come out of the Den! Peter and I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey together and in a way feel a tinge of sadness moving on. We wish to pass on our appreciation and thanks to all our colleagues, partners and of course, customers who have supported us.” Peter added, “the time felt right. Joining the Smartbox Group will ensure an exciting and progressive next chapter in Red Letter Days’ evolvement. We have been honoured and privileged to be custodians of the business since 2005.”

It has been quite a journey for Paphitis and Jones in taking the business out of administration to annual turnover in excess of £30m and pre-tax profit £2m +. Today some 500,000 customers a year enjoy the wide range of experiences on offer.