Biography

Theo Paphitis is one of the UK's most high profile businessmen. His empire spans retail, property, finance and consumer goods.

The Early Years

Theo was born in Cyprus. His family emigrated to Britain in the 1960s and he first showed his business skills at the tender age of 15 when he successfully ran his North London school’s tuck shop.

Theo’s first job was as an assistant with a Lloyds of London broker, before moving into retail when he was 18.

He then moved into property and corporate finance, setting up his own company at just 23.

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The Businessman

Theo was Chairman of Millwall FC for eight years, taking the club out of administration, into the Championship (to the FA Cup Final opposite Manchester United) and into Europe.

He’s revived the fortunes of such notable retail brands as La Senza, Contessa Lingerie, Ryman, Partners the Stationers and Stationery Box.

He sold his interest in the La Senza UK and Contessa in 2006.

In 2008, he combined the stationery businesses to form a new chain, Ryman the Stationer where he is now Chairman. The company sponsors the Isthmian football league, called the Ryman Football League.

He also owns Red Letter Days with fellow Dragon, Peter Jones, which he salvaged out of administration, and is an investor in Smarta, the business support and advice network for small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Theo launched the highly innovative new lingerie and nightwear brand, Boux Avenue in spring 2011. There are 17 UK stores, three international ones and an interactive website (www.bouxavenue.com). The company continues to expand rapidly.

In July 2012, the 96-store homewares specialist chain,
Robert Dyas joined Theo's retail portfolio. This means that across Ryman, Boux Avenue and Robert Dyas, the combined group comprises 349 stores and 3,600 employees who serve over 28 million customers a year.

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Charity Work

The Paphitis Charitable Trust distributes Theo’s fees from TV appearances, speeches and his book to causes close to his heart, especially children’s charities.

With his 2,200 colleagues at Ryman, he has helped raise in excess of £1,400,000 for Comic Relief, a charity that Theo and the company have supported for four years. As well as being an ambassador to the charity, Theo has also been appointed a Director.

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Education and Development

The Skills Show

Theo is a patron of The Skills Show, an annual event that takes place at NEC Birmingham.

Delivered in partnership with the Skills Funding Agency and the National Apprenticeship Service, with premier sponsorship from City & Guilds, The Skills Show raises awareness of the importance of vocational skills and careers. Nearly 100,000 visitors attended, notably students of all ages, parents, teachers and employers.

Visitors saw a wide range of national skills competition finals and took part in a variety of Have a Go activities, where over 50 different skills could be tried at first hand - from aircraft engineering to visual merchandising to web design and welding. They can also received information and advice on training, career choices and Apprenticeships.

Theo has also fronted a campaign promoting pensions by the Department for Work and Pensions and also supported the Carbon Trust when it gave away 0% loans to businesses through its Big Business Refit campaign.

He has three Honorary Doctorates, from the University of Middlesex, the University of Huddersfield and Southampton Solent University. These are in recognition of his belief that it is important to enjoy learning in its broadest possible sense.

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TV Appearances and Book

Through his appearances on BBC TWO’s Dragons’ Den, Theo has advised many entrepreneurs and invested in several innovative businesses and brands.

He’s also fronted Theo’s Adventure Capitalists, where he followed the fortunes of brave and bold British companies trying to expand in three of the world's most dynamic emerging markets - India, Brazil and Vietnam.

Theo’s life story, Enter the Dragon, is published by Orion Books in paperback. It gives an insight into the thoughts and aspirations of one of the UK’s most popular entrepreneurs.

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Home Life

Theo lives in Surrey with his wife Debbie. They have five children and several grandchildren.

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Slideshow