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Theo Paphitis: ‘Fairline didn’t make one big enough’

Dragon's Den's Theo Paphitis talks about his past five boats, how often he's onboard and what he's looking to buy next

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After cutting the ribbon at the launch of Sunseeker’s new 40 metre yacht at the Southampton Boat Show on Friday, Theo Paphitis gave us an insight to his love of boats which started five years ago with Fairline .

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At the end of last month, a business based in Harrow experienced a notable uplift from Retail Entrepreneur and star of Dragon’s Den , Theo Paphitis.

Trupti Akhadkar, Founder and Owner of The Dandies Clothing in Harrow, was ecstatic to receive the esteemed #SBS award from renowned entrepreneur and business tycoon Theo Paphitis at his annual Small Business Sunday (#SBS) event in Birmingham.

She was chosen for this award in July 2023. In July 2023, Trupti Akhadkar, the owner of The Dandies Clothing, reached out to Theo on Twitter during ‘Small Business Sunday,’ expressing her enthusiasm for crafting vibrant, organic clothing for children and infants.

Her business, The Dandies Clothing, was among the six weekly winners selected to receive a retweet or repost by Theo to his audience of over half a million followers on Twitter and Instagram.

This initiative, started by Theo in 2010, has since grown to include over 3,500 #SBS winners, offering support to small businesses across the UK. Business and retail entrepreneur and self-confessed Shopkeeper, Theo re-tweeted The Dandies Clothing message to his over 500,000 Twitter and Instagram followers and as a result, http://www.dandiesclothing.com/ has more followers and extra orders for their colourful organic clothing for kids.

They are also profiled on the #SBS website https://www.theopaphitissbs.com/profile/the-dandies-clothing/ that is exclusive to all Small Business Sunday winners.

Harrow business earns endorsement from former Dragon's Den star Theo Paphitis Harrow Online

Trupti said, “Over the past seven years, we’ve been running our operations from our modest workshop. In 2018, we proudly achieved the runners-up position in the Harrow Business Den competition. Since then, we’ve been recognized as finalists for numerous awards. Fast forward years later, Theo has been invaluable, particularly in elevating our profile. Theo has acknowledged our dedication and assisted in amplifying awareness about our endeavours to his audience.”

Small business champion and Ryman Stationery, Robert Dyas and Boux Avenue Chairman, Theo Paphitis, said: “We are thrilled to welcome new #SBS members every week and highlight just how important it is to support our small businesses here in the UK.

“My vision is that everyone who has ever won an #SBS re-tweet from me becomes part of a friendly club; like-minded individuals who can share successes and learnings. The website will also give a valuable profile to the winners chosen and I wish The Dandies Clothing every success.”

Anyone looking for a re-tweet from Theo should tweet on Twitter or do an Instagram post to him about their business on Sunday between 5pm and 7.30pm and include the hashtag #SBS.

Six lucky businesses are re-tweeted every Monday at 8pm and then invited to enter their profile on the new website, attend the annual #SBS networking event and take advantage of the networking opportunities.

if you’re a business owner, list your details on the Harrow Online Directory and reach a wider audience. Click here for more info. 

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How Dragon's Den tycoon Theo Paphitis went from a two-up, two-down in Gorton to a £300m empire

The property and retail business magnate is supporting a new youth club in the area and has explained to us why the project is so close to his heart

  • 09:30, 1 DEC 2019

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Dragon's Den star Theo Paphitis has revealed how his schooldays  in east Manchester helped shape him as he throws his weight behind a new youth centre in the area.

Theo, worth a reported £300 million, has run several successful high street brands.

However he is probably best known for his time as a 'Dragon' - investing in new start-up businesses on the hit show, which is filmed in Manchester.

The 60 year-old dad-of-five now lives in the south east and is known for being a Londoner, having moved there as a nine year-old.

However it is less well-known that he actually lived in Gorton in his boyhood, after his family first moved to the UK from Cyprus in the 1960s.

Speaking to the Manchester Evening News as he pledged to sponsor the new youth centre, the business tycoon revealed his enduring affection for Gorton and his vivid memories of those days.

"We left Cyprus when I was six years old and landed in Liverpool to stay with friends, before getting the train to Manchester," he said.

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"We rented a little two bedroom terraced house in Old Trafford, before my dad bought us a two up, two down in Gorton, when I was about seven. 

"When we moved to Gorton it was like something straight out of Coronation Street and I have a special place in my heart for the area. 

"We were there for a couple of years. I went to Peacock Street School juniors, apparently it’s now a council depot.

"I was nine when we moved to London, eventually to the Finsbury Park area, and both Gorton and London were in my formative years, so I have many memories from both; both full of character and a treat for the senses.

" It definitely shaped me.", Theo went on.

"It’s where I learnt to speak English, only speaking a couple of words when we arrived, but I made friends at school and I loved it."

Despite leaving school at 16 with no qualifications due to his dyslexia, Theo began work as a filing clerk in a Lloyds of London brokerage.

At another job - working in a Watches of Switzerland shop - the fledgling businessman discovered his passion for retail.

vAll of the fun of the fair at Belle Vue

He also had stints working in mortgages and insurance before setting up a property finance firm aged 23.

Since then he has developed a huge business empire, reviving the fortunes of high street chains such as Ryman, Partners the Stationers, Stationery Box, La Senza, Contessa Lingerie and more recently the home and garden retailer Robert Dyas.

He starred on Dragon's Den from 2005 to 2012, but recently returned for several one-off episodes this year.

He has also starred in numerous other business themed shows and is a former chairman of Millwall FC.

Now, he has become a founder patron of east Manchester's new youth club, called the HideOut Youth Zone, being built next to Gorton Park off Hyde Road.

theo paphitis yacht

The £6 million centre has been made possible thanks to the donation of land by the local authority and a huge cash donation from Salford bookmaker Fred Done.

A committee of local youngsters has been involved in its design and planning - from choosing the name and logo to even interviewing staff.

And it hopes to see 3,000 people, aged eight to 19 from across east Manchester, through its doors in the first year.

Theo said there was certainly nothing like it in the area when he was a child.

"You had to make your own entertainment, which was always going to go one of two ways," he said.

"As my brother Marinos and I soon discovered as young lads, Gorton was famous for its railway sidings - which was a magnificent free playground for us.

theo paphitis yacht

"It always seemed to be raining, but it didn’t matter as we always had great fun finding interesting things that fell off the railway trucks as they went through. 

"Watching the Manchester United reserve games for free, when I probably should have been at school, is a big memory for me too.

"Marinos and I sometimes used to get saveloy and chips for dinner after school, or head to Belle Vue, which was close to where we lived.

"For boys of eight and ten years old this was heaven, but we soon got in trouble for missing school to go there.

"I was one of the lucky ones, I didn’t get dragged into anything I shouldn’t be involved in.

"But these Youth Zones are fantastic, it means kids have purpose, somewhere to go to meet other kids and have the right role models.”

The centre will cost just £50p a night for youngsters, with the majority of the running costs met by sponsors like Theo, who said it took him a 'split second' to decide to become involved.

theo paphitis yacht

It will include facilities such as an outdoor 3G football pitch, an indoor four court sports hall, a fully equipped gym, dance studio, climbing wall, boxing ring, music studio, hair and nails studio and a training kitchen.

Theo told the M.E.N. he believed it could even be the breeding ground for the next generation of entrepreneurs.

"The HideOut Youth Zone is something I would have loved as a lad back in the day and Gorton is one of those areas that needs somewhere for kids to be kids, enjoy access to some amazing facilities and a space to open their minds.

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"I’ve seen the plans and I for one can’t wait to visit when it opens.

"Of course, if you give people the opportunity and show them what’s possible, then the world is their oyster. 

"The Hideout Youth Zone will be a place that will no doubt inspire those from 8 up to 25 who go there and I can’t wait to see what they achieve."

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Joanne Whittaker, Chair of HideOut Youth Zone said: “We are incredibly grateful to Theo Paphitis for making this commitment to HideOut Youth Zone.

"It is fantastic to have his support and investment in changing the lives of young people of Manchester."

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By Watches of Switzerland Group    |   5 minute read

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For long-standing fans of the BBC’s Dragons’ Den, Theo Paphitis will be a familiar face. The Cypriot-born businessman and entrepreneur joined the programme in 2005, and over nine series invested in a diverse range of small businesses and budding entrepreneurs, becoming known along the way for phrases like ‘I’d rather stick pins in my eyes than invest in that!’ He stepped away from the programme in 2012 to focus on his businesses and other interests, but stepped back into Dragons’ Den for a few episodes this year in Series 17.

It was chance that set him on this path. Born in Limassol, Cyprus, Paphitis emigrated to Britain with his parents and brother at the age of six, initially moving to Manchester before settling in London. He left school at 16 after years of battling dyslexia, and was given a job as a tea boy and filing clerk at Lloyds of London – which far from suited him. ‘Those years were painful,’ he recalls, ‘and I was at a low ebb. Then Mrs P saw an advert in the Evening Standard for a sales assistant at Watches of Switzerland, so I applied and I got it. I’ve kept that job ad to this day.’

Paphitis spent two years working at Watches of Switzerland’s London Bond Street showroom in the late 1970s. ‘I’ve got to give Watches of Switzerland credit — I remember my first day like it was yesterday. It was the day I fell in love with retail and I fell in love with watches. Neither of those flames are extinguished – they both still shine very brightly within my heart. Watches are engineering feats. Yes, you can tell the time on your phone today, but there’s nothing like wearing a work of art and engineering on your wrist.’

When I was working at Watches of Switzerland, I could never dream of affording a watch. I remember the first timepiece I bought while working there — it was an LED watch that cost me £10. But two years after I left, I walked into the showroom and bought my first Rolex. It was a steel-and-gold Datejust. I spent £1,200 and walked out with the watch on my wrist and a huge grin on my face. I’ve loved that watch for over 30 years. Recently, I gave it to one of my sons, engraved with the year I bought it and his name on the back, so it’s still in the family. Theo Paphitis

‘The experience of working in the West End at a luxury brand was amazing for a boy coming from a council block, which is where I grew up,’ he adds. ‘It was a proper education in life, and I learned so much. That’s why supporting apprenticeships is a really important cause for me.’

Since then, Paphitis has added many strings to his bow. He’s made his mark in the world of lingerie with La Senza and Boux Avenue, revived stationery names like Ryman and London Graphic Centre, and served as chairman of Millwall Football Club for eight years (he led the club out of administration and to the 2004 FA Cup Final at the Millennium Stadium against Manchester United). ‘You’ve got to constantly find new passions, new challenges, things that take you outside your comfort zone,’ he says.

Paphitis’s lifelong love for watches is evident as he showed us his extensive collection, which includes his first ‘proper’ watch, the Rolex Datejust, a stunning Rolex Yacht-Master II given to him by his wife Debbie on his 50th birthday, and a new GMT-Master II with the signature Pepsi bezel.

I buy watches because I like them,’ he says. ‘I start with its looks – I’m shallow. That’s a good place to start because I like to know about the watch, its movement and its pedigree. If all that ticks a box, I’m there. If they have a great pedigree and story and they sit well with all my other models then I’ll go for it. I love going through my collection and remembering why I fell in love with a watch. I never buy for investment: if they end up being a good investment, then that’s a bonus Theo Paphitis

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A Conversation with Theo Paphitis, Serial Entrepreneur, Star of Dragon’s Den & Philanthropist

A Conversation with Theo Paphitis, Serial Entrepreneur, Star of Dragon’s Den & Philanthropist

Theo Paphitis is one of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs. Born in Cyprus, Theo Paphitis has a business empire that spans retail, property, and finance. He left school at 16 with no qualifications due to his dyslexia, but soon discovered his passion for retail working for Watches of Switzerland – and the rest is history.

He has been in retail for over 40 years and in that time bought and revived the fortunes of the likes of Ryman , La Senza , Contessa, and Robert Dyas and launched global lingerie brand Boux Avenue in 2011. In 2016 he added The London Graphic Centre to his portfolio. Theo is also known for his 8 years as Millwal l Chairman, as well as many TV appearances, including most notably as a long-standing Dragon on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den . He supports several charities, through his Theo Paphitis Charitable Trust , and is also Chancellor of Solent University . Theo launched his small business initiative #SBS Small Business Sunday network in 2010, which now has an annual event and over 4,000 small businesses. In 2023 Theo became the British Dyslexia Associatio n’s first Dyslexia Empowerment Patron, and also joined forces with the Helen Arkell Dyslexia Charity to launch the Theo Paphitis Dyslexia Bursary. This helps to fund specialist courses for teachers and teaching assistants, helping them to identify and appropriately support young people with dyslexia.

In this interview I speak to Theo Paphitis, Serial Entrepreneur, Philanthropist & Star of Dragon’s Den. We discuss his incredible career in entrepreneurship, his learnings on what it takes to build successful businesses & brands, the future of retail, and the realities of what entrepreneurial life is really like.  

Q: What do you think it really takes to be an entrepreneur?

[Theo Paphitis]: I don’t believe in a magic solution or that there’s just one thing that makes everything work, and I’m pretty sure many others have echoed this sentiment to you. It’s about a myriad of elements coming together; circumstances undoubtedly play a significant role too. Add a generous dose of enthusiasm and passion into the mix, and then, just a sprinkle of luck on top. A little luck is essential, after all. And trust me, everyone experiences luck at some point. Whenever I hear someone claim they’re unlucky, I often counter by saying, maybe you haven’t encountered as much luck as you’d hoped, but you’ve surely had your moments of fortune along the way. It’s inevitable. There’s this saying, I believe it’s credited to Gary Player , ‘The harder I work, the luckier I get’. This could easily be rephrased as, ‘the more opportunities I pursue, the more I discover’. Essentially, it boils down to the same concept. Thus, trying to encapsulate it all with a single adjective or description simply doesn’t do justice. It’s a complex blend of various factors.

Initially, my goal wasn’t to become an entrepreneur; I was simply aiming to earn some money. That was it. In doing so, I inadvertently embraced entrepreneurship. Given my dyslexia, the academic path was not an option for me; there were no A-Levels or university in my future. My choices were stark: acquire a skill or venture into entrepreneurship. Naturally, I gravitated towards entrepreneurship.

Interestingly, most accomplished individuals who continue to work well into their later years seldom wake up thinking solely about the day’s earnings, despite such financial motivations often sparking their journeys. Instead, their motivation lies in pursuing a passion, dedicating their lives to something they genuinely love. For them, money becomes more of a metric—a way to keep score. At the year’s end, the accountants tally up, allowing for reflection and planning. Did we do well? Could we have done better? After taxes are paid, it becomes clear that money isn’t the sole measure of success.

Beyond the financials, there’s an “off-balance sheet” aspect to entrepreneurship, as I like to call it. It’s about the joy and satisfaction derived from your work, from being engaged and passionate about what you do. These sentiments are not unique to me; many entrepreneurs I’ve spoken with share this perspective. They value the intrinsic rewards of entrepreneurship just as much, if not more, than the financial outcomes.

Q: What does it take for businesses to scale?

[Theo Paphitis]: The reality is, not every business model is designed for scalability. That’s a fact. Some businesses don’t necessarily need to scale to be successful. Take the case of software engineering, for example. It’s inherently scalable, as evidenced by some of the largest software companies in the world becoming behemoths in the global market. The key lies in intellectual property (IP). Once you’ve developed a piece of IP, the cost of distributing it to one person versus a million is remarkably similar, making such businesses inherently scalable.

Contrast this with a service-based profession like window cleaning, which depends heavily on physical labour—my effort, your effort, regardless of whether it’s measured in man hours or woman hours. Scaling in such industries becomes significantly more challenging. Sure, you can hire additional window cleaners, but this introduces a new set of complications, from increased labour costs to managerial challenges. In essence, these businesses might offer a sustainable, even lucrative, livelihood, but they’re not designed to scale in the same way a tech company might.

On the other hand, there are businesses that thrive on scalability, leveraging the efforts, hard work, and creativity of others. This could involve hiring staff to expand your operational capacity or possessing an IP that holds substantial scalable value. However, it’s crucial to recognize that the landscape of scalability is vast and varied; it’s never about just one thing. Some ventures are lifestyle-oriented, providing a means to a decent, sometimes exceptional, living without necessarily being scalable. Then, there are those with the potential to scale, reliant on leveraging external efforts or valuable IP.

Q: And with retail businesses, is shared service efficiency the key?

[Theo Paphitis]: You’ve touched on a topic that coincidentally mirrors the discussion from a recent meeting I attended. You referred to it as “shared services,” while we used the term “consolidation” to describe essentially the same concept. This trend, I believe, is what we’re going to witness in the retail sector over the next decade. From my perspective, this shift towards consolidation might not be entirely positive. Given the current economic climate and the stance of the present government—and, frankly, there’s little optimism that the next government will fare any better, despite their promises—the challenges facing retail are formidable.

There will be exceptions, of course. There’s always room for innovation and new ventures that break the mould. However, the stark reality is that the majority of existing retailers, if they persist with their current strategies, are likely to face extinction. They will need to adapt and evolve. And part of this evolution, I foresee, involves a movement towards consolidation. We’ve already observed a significant amount of this, but I anticipate an even more accelerated phase of consolidation ahead.

Q: It feels the changes in high street retail will leave us culturally worse off as a society?

[Theo Paphitis]: Society has undoubtedly faced setbacks, but clinging to practices from 100 years ago isn’t a solution. The world has evolved, and so must we, finding our purpose in the new landscape. It’s easy to fault external factors—be it greedy landlords, outdated business rates harming retail, or local authorities with their restrictive parking policies. Yes, we can spend our time complaining about these issues. But, as I often emphasize, it’s crucial to introspect and work with the hand we’re dealt. We might strive for change, yet we must navigate with the resources available to us.

Take for instance Ryman, a brand with a 130-year legacy, and Robert Dyas, celebrating 150 years. These aren’t just numbers; they’re testaments to enduring heritage. However, as I reminded our management team recently, longevity doesn’t entitle us to a permanent spot on the high street. We must continually justify our existence. Without a compelling reason, even the most storied brands can fade into obscurity, joining the ranks of those that didn’t adapt.

Innovation is key to staying relevant. Look at the Ryman app we launched last week—a prime example. In a world where apps are commonplace, what sets the Ryman app apart? It’s a disruptor, offering services unmatched by any other high street retailer or app. This novelty grabs attention, signalling that we’re not just another retailer but a unique player in the market.

Consider the app’s capabilities, such as the personalized greeting card feature. While personalized cards aren’t a novel concept, our approach is. Customers can design a card through the app and pick it up from their local Ryman store within an hour—no waiting days for postal delivery, no shipping fees, all for just £2.99. This service not only draws customers into our stores for a highly personalized product but also reinforces Ryman’s relevance and adaptability.

Beyond traditional offerings like business stationery, we’ve diversified. Now, Ryman stores provide a suite of services—printing, DHL parcel drop-offs, Western Union money transfers, among others. These additions are not just services; they’re reasons for customers to visit, and reasons for Ryman to thrive in a rapidly changing retail landscape. We’ve moved beyond our historical focus to embrace a future where our uniqueness and adaptability define our reason to exist.

Q: What is the magic of physical retail?

[Theo Paphitis]: When I first embarked on my journey in retail, one of the earliest lessons I learned was about the significant cost of altering consumer habits. The mantra was clear: give the customers what they want because changing their habits is an expensive endeavour. However, the advent of the internet has ushered in a new era where consumer loyalty is fickler than ever. Customers today are incredibly promiscuous in their shopping behaviours, readily switching from one brand to another, influenced by various external factors. One day Google might direct their attention to me, the next to my competitor, and then to the competitor of my competitor, making the market highly transactional and fluid.

Yet, this is where the true magic of physical retail shines through. It’s not merely about presenting a screen filled with words and images. The essence of physical retail lies in the ability to genuinely engage with consumers, something that digital platforms can’t replicate in the same way. The importance of service delivered by store staff cannot be overstated, nor can their deep understanding of the local community. This understanding underscores why we place such a strong emphasis on our corporate social responsibility initiatives. It’s not just about philanthropy or doing the right thing from a social conscience perspective—though these are crucial—it also makes sound business sense to support the communities where we operate.

Our commitment extends to supporting national charities, but we always strive to connect these efforts with local initiatives and our store colleagues. Currently, we’re collaborating with the Helen Arkell Dyslexia Charity, sponsoring the training of a teacher in every town that hosts one of our stores. Our goal is to fund the training of 200 teachers as a starting point. This initiative allows us to engage with local schools and communities in meaningful ways beyond mere events, reinforcing our role as a local entity and a community member.

However, this deep-rooted community engagement doesn’t automatically entitle us to business. If we fail to offer a service that people desire, their goodwill towards us, no matter how generous, won’t suffice. The bottom line remains we must continue to provide value and meet the needs of our customers to maintain our relevance and existence in the marketplace.

Q: What do you look for in brands to invest-in and grow?

[Theo Paphitis]: Revitalizing an existing brand, one that’s already embedded in the public consciousness, is inherently easier than launching a new one from scratch. However, not every brand can be resurrected. We’ve witnessed countless examples where a brand’s purpose has simply evaporated over time. While I hold a nostalgic affection for many of these brands, their relevance has faded. The key to revitalizing a business often lies in strategic actions, such as leveraging shared services or consolidating within an industry or retail category. This approach can significantly reduce costs that would be unsustainable for individual brands operating independently. This strategy has proven successful not just for me but for many others, underscoring why I often emphasize the importance of consolidation given the current economic pressures.

Transforming a loss-making entity into a profitable venture isn’t about my vision alone; it hinges on insights from those who operate within the business. Before considering the acquisition of a business, I invest considerable time in dialogue with its employees. Admittedly, gaining candid insights has become more challenging as my public recognition has grown. In the past, my anonymity afforded me valuable, unguarded conversations with staff members.

One memorable encounter involved visiting a competitor’s store, dressed in a suit, which was my habit back then. I engaged the store manager, addressing her by her first name as indicated by her name badge, and inquired about the day’s trading. Our conversation, which spanned about 20 to 25 minutes, provided me with a wealth of insight into her perspectives on the business’s challenges. While discerning between local, personal grievances and broader business issues was necessary, this interaction was particularly enlightening.

Her realization towards the end of our chat that I wasn’t from their head office, followed by my subsequent ownership of the business, marked a remarkable moment. When we met again, I expressed my gratitude, half-jokingly advising her to perhaps inquire more about the identity of her interlocutors in the future. These experiences underscore the invaluable insights frontline employees offer, insights crucial to understanding and navigating the intricacies of revitalizing a business.

[Vikas: talking to people in and around businesses at all levels is so important for leaders]

[Theo Paphitis]: For me, engaging directly with the people in a business is invaluable. Despite all the due diligence my accountants and team can perform, analysing numbers and reports, my personal approach to due diligence involves immersing myself within the company, listening to the employees’ concerns, their praises, and their criticisms. This hands-on method offers me a deeper, more nuanced understanding of the business’s inner workings.

In one acquisition, a retail business, I adopted a unique approach to gather insights. I would gather all the managers in a conference hall, with the entire Head Office team present on stage. It’s important to note that these individuals from Head Office were not my hires but part of the inheritance of the acquisition. Initially, there’s a silence, no questions asked until I initiate the conversation. I encourage them by stating, “This is your chance. I’m here to improve your work life. Tell me three things that would make a significant difference for you, and let’s discuss if I can commit to implementing these changes, including the timeframe.”

One of the first issues raised was the cost of tea and coffee during breaks. “Would having tea and coffee funded by petty cash improve your morale?” I asked. The answer was a unanimous yes. Then, the conversation turned to the lack of fridges for storing milk, which I also agreed to address. Before we knew it, the discussion hadn’t progressed beyond the staffroom. Yet, these seemingly minor grievances were significant to them. They’re dedicating countless hours, working tirelessly for a business facing challenges, and these staffroom inadequacies were a source of frustration.

When microwaves were mentioned, it was clear to me that their staff rooms were not serving their needs. “So, if I were to provide 100 microwaves, 100 fridges, and ensure you have access to tea and coffee, would that be a positive start?” The scepticism was palpable. “But will you actually do it?” they questioned.

This interaction highlighted an essential truth: the workplace is a second home for these employees, where they spend as much time as they do at their actual homes. My aim was to alleviate any additional stress from their work environment, not by encouraging idleness, but by removing unnecessary obstacles. Making the workplace more comfortable and accommodating doesn’t mean lowering expectations but rather creating an environment where employees feel valued and understood.

Transitioning from addressing the immediate comforts of the staffroom, the atmosphere shifted significantly. A modest investment had not only enhanced morale but also opened the floor for broader discussions. I could sense the discomfort of the Head Office team seated behind me, as they were directly confronted with feedback from the frontline employees—voices they had seemingly ignored for far too long.

This moment was pivotal. I urged the Head Office team to take accountability, asking them, “Why hasn’t this been addressed? Can we implement these changes? If there’s a reason to disagree with the suggestions from our staff, I’m all ears. Remember, I’m the newcomer here.” This dialogue was crucial for me to understand the dynamics and constraints of the business from an insider’s perspective.

While not every suggestion was feasible, many ideas presented were both possible and potentially transformative for the business. This open forum for feedback has been a cornerstone of my approach throughout my career. Fostering an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, whether positive or negative, has been invaluable. It’s important to acknowledge that not all feedback is glowing, but it’s all crucial for growth and improvement.

Q: What does legacy mean to you?

[Theo Paphitis]: Wow, when you ask what it all means to me… well, I see myself as just a humble shopkeeper. But when it comes down to it, as we each approach our final moments, ready to leave this earthly existence, there’s a profound question to ponder: Did my presence make the world a better place? That’s sufficient for me. It’s a question that doesn’t discriminate by the magnitude of impact.

And, you know, this applies universally, whether it’s someone you’re sitting next to on the tube or the bus. The essence is the same: Was the world improved because they were here? The scale of impact, in my view, is secondary. After all, we’re all born into different circumstances, with varying abilities and characteristics. Yet, this fundamental question should hold true for everyone. Did your existence contribute positively to the world? If the answer is yes, that’s all that really matters. That, to me, is enough.

About the Author

Vikas Shah MBE DL is an entrepreneur, investor & philanthropist. He is CEO of Swiscot Group alongside being a venture-investor in a number of businesses internationally. He is a Non-Executive Board Member of the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and a Non-Executive Director of the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Vikas was awarded an MBE for Services to Business and the Economy in Her Majesty the Queen’s 2018 New Year’s Honours List and in 2021 became a Deputy Lieutenant of the Greater Manchester Lieutenancy. He is an Honorary Professor of Business at The Alliance Business School, University of Manchester and Visiting Professors at the MIT Sloan Lisbon MBA.

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How Theo Paphitis made his millions, loving wife and explosive Dragons' Den return

Popular former Dragons' Den star Theo Paphitis is making a much-welcomed return tonight to stand in for Peter Jones while he self-isolates - and he certainly has history with the show

Cheeky Dragon Theo Paphitis is back in the Den

  • 19:00, 3 Jun 2021

Theo Paphitis is making an explosive return to Dragons' Den tonight - eight years after leaving the show.

The former Millwall FC chairman joined Dragons Den in 2005 and became known for being a straight-talker and forking out a lot of money on investments.

Theo was one of the most popular Dragons thanks to his cheeky smile and hilarious jokes, but he decided his time was up in 2013.

"This has not been an easy decision or one that I have taken lightly," explained the Greek Cypriot entrepreneur.

"The time felt right to give up my seat, stop breathing fire and allow someone else to enjoy the wonderful experience of being a Dragon.

"So, it just leaves it for me to say thank you to all past and present Dragons. Thank you Auntie. I Am Out."

Born in Cyprus, Theo lived in Manchester and then London when his family moved to the UK in the 1960s.

Theo struggled with dyslexia as a child but started showing his business brain by running the school's tuck shop aged just 15.

Starting off as a tea boy and filing clerk at insurance broker Lloyd's of London, Theo then moved into retail at the age of 18 and started selling watches.

By 23 he had switched into property and corporate finance and set up his own company.

He invested in the telecom industry with the rise in mobile phones and bought Rymans when it went bankrupt and turned its fortunes round.

In 2006 he sold his equity stake in lingerie brand La Senza for a reported £100million and bought another, Box Avenue in 2011.

Theo still owns Ryman as well as Boux Avenue and homeware specialist Robert Days.

He was also Chairman of Millwall FC for eight years, taking the club out of administration and into the Championship, then to the FA Cup final for the first time in their history.

Through his appearances on Dragons' Den, Theo has advised many young entrepreneurs and invested in several innovative businesses and brands.

The Paphitis Charitable Trust distributes all of his fees from TV appearances, speeches and his book to causes close to his heart and charities associated with children.

The business tycoon lives in Weybridge, Surrey with his beloved wife Debbie, who he affectionately referred to as 'Mrs P' during his time in the Den.

Theo has five kids, two sons and three daughters, as well as four grandchildren.

When investors were stood before him asking for money, Theo would often ask why they wanted to take cash away from his kids' inheritance.

According to last year's Sunday Times Rich List, Theo's net worth is a staggering £290million.

He briefly returned for a guest appearance on the show in 2019 when Touker Suleyman had a short-term illness.

And Theo is now back for a third time to take the place of fellow Dragon and business partner Peter Jones.

Theo was forced to step in for Peter while he was required to self-isolate during filming for series 18.

It was actually Peter who chose his close mates to stand in for him as his replacements, saying Theo is "one of the great past Dragons".

Cheeky Theo has been causing some mischief on set by sitting in his former middle seat, which incurred the wrath of the Dragon who currently sits there.

He posted a video on Instagram of Deborah steaming over to tell Theo to move over, saying it "was" his chair and is now "my" chair.

"Back in the early series of Dragon’s Den, my chair was the middle chair which now belongs to @DeborahMeaden ...safe to say she wasn't very happy about me sitting in it and swiftly moved me out to the tall fella's chair," he wrote in the caption.

It waits to be seen whether Theo will part with more of his cash tonight.

*Dragons' Den airs tonight on BBC One at 9pm

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Theo Paphitis Net Worth 2022 – A Closer Look At The Dragon

Table of Contents

theo paphitis yacht

Theo Paphitis has a net worth of over £290 million in 2022 according to the Sunday Times Rich List. This retail mogul has made the majority of his wealth by wise investments, and by using his common sense, he says. This British-Greek entrepreneur is best known for his tv appearances on Dragon’s Den, as well as being the former chairman of the Millwall Football Club.

From being a tea boy and filing clerk to a multi-million-pound businessman in a few years, makes Theo Paphitis an extraordinary magnate. He even battled dyslexia at school, but from an early age, he had a knack for retail by working at his school’s tuck shop.

So, how did he make his millions?

Keep reading for an in-depth look at Paphitis.

Theo Paphitis – Quick Facts

Where he ranks among the top dragon’s.

theo paphitis yacht

His Early Life

Theo Paphitis was born in Limassol, a small city in Cyprus. He is the second born child and has

2 brothers, as well as to half brothers. His family moved to Manchester, UK, where he grew up. At the age of 9, he moved to London with his family and battled dyslexia in school.

Where Did He Make His Money?

theo paphitis yacht

Theo Paphitis initially started off as a filing clerk for an insurance company. He wanted to make more money and at the age of 18, he worked in retail as a sales assistant for Watches of Switzerland. This was when he realised that his passion was in retail.

When he turned 21 he joined Legal and General, a business specialising in commercial mortgages. This was where he sold these mortgages and learned to read business balance sheets.

At the age of 23, Paphitis started his own property finance company with a friend. In the 1980’s he started making real money in the commercial property market. During the 80’s he also noticed that mobile phones would become a big deal, and he bought into NGA Telecoms. He then became chairman alongside director Tony Kleanthous.

Paphitis then gained a large share in NGA, as he negotiated reduced rate positions with Ryman stationery stores.

Ryman went bankrupt in the meantime, and this was when Paphitis bought the store over and turned it around. He did this by working hard to improve client relations and enthuse those who worked for the business. He was able to turn a company that had become bankrupt into a profitable business.

He has now invested in many different ventures including, Robert Dyas , a hardware retailer in the UK, and a luxury lingerie store called Boux Avenue .

In 2011, he also sold his share in la senza lingerie stores for a reported £100 million., recently in 2016, he also acquired a london graphic center. this is a stationery and art supplies store..

As you can see his rise to wealth took some time, but by making the right financial investments it all paid off.

Football and TV

In 1997 Paphitis took Millwall out of administration and onto the FA Cup Final in 2004. He is well known for reducing football hooliganism. He was chairman of Millwall for about eight years before he stepped down in 2005. He is also a director and part-owner of Walton & Hershman He also became a sponsor for cup tournaments with Robert Dyas and Boux Avenue.

In 2005, Paphitis joined Dragon’s Den and made many investments on his own, and with other-fellow Dragon’s. He was well known for being direct, as well as sincere. He left the show in 2013, but rejoined for a few episodes in 2019, while Touker Sulyeman was recovering from an illness.

He was also featured in many other different tv shows namely:

  • Back to the Floor
  • Theo’s Aventure Capitalists
  • Britain’s Next Best Thing
  • Question Time
  • Famous Rich and Hungry

Which businesses did Paphitis invest in on Dragon’s Den?

Theo Paphitis invested in 45 business during his time as a Dragon.

The most successful business he invested in along with Deborah Medan, was a company called Magic Whiteboard . They managed to make an £800,000 return on their £100,000 investment.

Personal life

theo paphitis yacht

Theo Paphitis now lives in Surrey, UK with his wife. They have 2 sons and 3 daughters, as well as four grandchildren. His one daughter, Zoe Paphitis is an actress and is best known for appearing on the TV series Dream Team.

Theo is an avid car collector and loves personalised number plates. He also owns a 40-meter yacht and has a love of boats.

In Conclusion

Theo Paphitis is a retail mogul with a passion for sales. He followed what he loved, and that made him rich. Common sense is one of his greatest attributes in business, he says, and even though he was branded “lazy” at school, he was able to make millions.

Check out Dragons Den Net Worth Article Here:

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theo paphitis yacht

What is the name of Theo Paphitis yacht?

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i recently visited the London boat show and whilst there seen a massive boat named debbies delight,according to one of the show security staff the boat belonged to theo.the guy said it was worth around 25 million pounds.

Add your answer:


What is the birth name of Theo Paphitis?

Theo Paphitis's birth name is Theodoros Paphitis.

Who owns the yacht I am out 2?

Theo Paphitis. It is currently up for sale

What is the name of Theo Paphitis?

What is theo paphitis's birthday.

Theo Paphitis was born on September 24, 1959.

When was Theo Paphitis born?

How old is theo paphitis.

Theo Paphitis is 52 years old (birthdate: September 24, 1959).

How tall is Theo Von?

Theo Paphitis is 5' 10".

Why is theo paphitis famous?

he made cats dress as robots and made them fight each other, for money.

British tv Dragon Theo Paphitis was the chairman of which London football club for eight years until 2006?

Who invented profiteroles.

Theo Paphitis originally made his millions through his invention and patent of the Profiterole. It is believed that Paphitis made two hundred and forty two million billion Mexican Pesos from his delicious delicacies, and it was this revenue that brought about his ventures Ryman, Contessa and Partners.

What is theo short for?

its like theo steveson theo is a name of a boy theo steveson is my faveroite theo is a serten name

What is the birth name of Theo James?

Theo James's birth name is Theo Taptiklis.


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NV obtains new photos and videos of the elimination of traitorous ex-MP Ilya Kyva near Moscow

  • Oops! Something went wrong. Please try again later. More content below

Photos and videos of the elimination of pro-Russian ex-MP Ilya Kyva in a Moscow suburb were obtained by NV from sources in Ukraine’s SBU Security Service on Dec. 11.

This special operation was meticulously planned and successfully executed, the SBU informant confirmed.

Read also: “Surrender for your own safety” advises Ukrainian intelligence to traitors

In one imgae, Kyva's lifeless body can be seen in the snow surrounded by bloodstains. The location where “deserved punishment awaited the traitor” is near the place that Kyva filmed many anti-Ukrainian videos, sources say.

Kyva was a high-priority target, SBU said. His daily routines, movements, and habits were extensively studied in the operation. Despite strong security, the SBU managed to eliminate him just outside Moscow.

“This [Kyva’s elimination] serves as a signal to all traitors and military criminals who have sided with the enemy. Remember: Russia will not protect you. Death is the only prospect awaiting enemies of Ukraine,” SBU Chief Vasyl Malyuk said.

Ukraine’s SBU eliminated Kyva in a special operation in Moscow Oblast on Dec. 6, said NV sources in the intelligence service.

Kyva's “bloodied body”, discovered with a shot through the head, was found in the park of an elite club hotel in the Moscow region on Dec.6, Russian propaganda Telegram channels reported.

Read also: Former Ukrainian MP and traitor Illia Kyva found dead in Moscow Oblast – NV sources

Kyva was shot with an unidentified firearm and died from the injuries on the scene, the Russian Investigative Committee claimed.

Kyva had fled to Spain ahead of Russia’s full-scale invasion. He then appeared in Russian propaganda broadcasts in Moscow, actively spreading lies about Ukraine. Kyva also sought “political asylum” and citizenship from the enemy aggressor.

The Ukrainian parliament stripped Kyva of his MP status in March 2022, charging him with treason. He was additionally charged with publicly calling for a violent change in the constitutional order and propaganda on behalf of the aggressor state in Aug. 2023.

We’re bringing the voice of Ukraine to the world. Support us with a one-time donation, or become a Patron !

Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine

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theo paphitis yacht

Strange Glow Over Moscow Skies Triggers Panic as Explosions Reported

B right flashes lit up the night sky in southern Moscow in the early hours of Thursday morning, new footage appears to show, following reports of an explosion at an electrical substation on the outskirts of the city.

Video snippets circulating on Russian-language Telegram channels show a series of flashes on the horizon of a cloudy night sky, momentarily turning the sky a number of different colors. In a clip shared by Russian outlet MSK1.ru, smoke can be seen rising from a building during the flashes lighting up the scene.

Newsweek was unable to independently verify the details of the video clips, including when and where it was filmed. The Russian Ministry of Emergency situations has been contacted via email.

Several Russian Telegram accounts said early on Thursday that residents of southern Moscow reported an explosion and a fire breaking out at an electrical substation in the Leninsky district, southeast of central Moscow.

Local authorities in the Leninsky district told Russian outlet RBC that the explosion had happened in the village of Molokovo. "All vital facilities are operating as normal," Leninsky district officials told the outlet.

The incident at the substation in Molokovo took place just before 2 a.m. local time, MSK1.ru reported.

Messages published by the ASTRA Telegram account, run by independent Russian journalists, appear to show residents close to the substation panicking as they question the bright flashes in the sky. One local resident describes seeing the bright light before losing access to electricity, with another calling the incident a "nightmare."

More than 10 villages and towns in the southeast of Moscow lost access to electricity, the ASTRA Telegram account also reported. The town of Lytkarino to the southeast of Moscow, lost electricity, wrote the eastern European-based independent outlet, Meduza.

Outages were reported in the southern Domodedovo area of the city, according to another Russian outlet, as well as power failures in western Moscow. Electricity was then restored to the areas, the Strana.ua outlet reported.

The cause of the reported explosion is not known. A Telegram account aggregating news for the Lytkarino area described the incident as "an ordinary accident at a substation."

The MSK1.ru outlet quoted a local resident who speculated that a drone may have been responsible for the explosion, but no other Russian source reported this as a possible cause.

Ukraine has repeatedly targeted Moscow with long-range aerial drones in recent months, including a dramatic wave of strikes in late May.

On Sunday, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said the region's air defense systems had intercepted an aerial drone over the city of Elektrostal, to the east of Moscow. No damage or casualties were reported, he said.

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There is currently no evidence that an aerial drone was responsible for the reported overnight explosion at the electrical substation in southern Moscow.

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Stills from footage circulating on Telegram early on Thursday morning. Bright flashes lit up the night sky in southern Moscow, new footage appears to show, following reports of an explosion at an electrical substation on the outskirts of the city.

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Dragons' Den star Theo Paphitis: My kids won't cope if I don't leave them my fortune

  • The 54-year-old disagrees with millionaires who do not pass on wealth
  • Fears his children would not be able to cope without luxury lifestyle
  • Received nothing from his Greek Cypriot immigrant parents
  • Asks contestants: ‘Why should I spend my children’s inheritance on that?’

By Simon Cable for The Mail on Sunday

Published: 20:06 EDT, 2 October 2013 | Updated: 20:06 EDT, 2 October 2013

View comments

If anyone knows how hard it is to make a fortune, it’s former Dragons’ Den star Theo Paphitis, who clawed his way up from humble beginnings as a tea boy.

Which is why the retail tycoon won’t be depriving his children of their multi-million pound inheritance, fearing they wouldn’t be able to cope without the luxury lifestyle he has given them.

Paphitis, 54, who is worth £180million, said he disagrees with other millionaires such as his former co-star on the BBC2 show Duncan Bannatyne, who insist they won’t pass on their fortune to their children because it would ‘ruin’ them.

Traditionalist: Dragon Theo Paphitis pictured with his wife Debbie, said he was a family man who would not be depriving children of their fortunes

Traditionalist: Dragon Theo Paphitis pictured with his wife Debbie, said he was a family man who would not be depriving children of their fortunes

Paphitis, who has five children with his wife Debbie, said that suddenly taking away their privileged lifestyles risked ‘driving them to places you don’t want them to go’.


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He said: ‘My view is very simple. I’m a traditionalist, a family man, I love my kids. I believe I have brought them up the right way. They are all very  different, they have different drives, different ambitions. They are never going to be me. They are going to be themselves.

Not so generous: BBC 2 co-star Duncan Bannatyne insists he won't pass on his fortune to his children

Not so generous: BBC 2 co-star Duncan Bannatyne insists he won't pass on his fortune to his children

‘We support each other and there is no reason why I shouldn’t support my children. I, on the other hand, had absolutely nothing, apart from the love of my parents. You make your kids what they are, so what do you do?

‘Do you not get them used to a lifestyle? What happens when they become 18 and they are used to a certain lifestyle and then you say, “I’m going to take it away?”

‘How do you know they are capable of coping with that? How do you know that’s not going to drive them somewhere to a place you don’t want them to go anywhere near because of it? You can’t do that.’

Paphitis, who used to ask contestants on Dragons’ Den, ‘Why should I spend my children’s inheritance on that?’ has three daughters and two sons, Dominic, 34, actress Zoe, 32, Alex, 26, and twins Holly and Annabelle, 17.

The son of Greek Cypriot immigrants, Paphitis started work aged 15 as assistant to the tea boy at brokers Lloyd’s of London.

Just seven years later he had set up his first business. He now owns hardware chain Robert Dyas, stationers Ryman and set up lingerie brand Boux Avenue two years ago.

He is also the face of the Government’s auto-enrolment pension initiative.

In 2009 Bannatyne said he will not leave a penny of his vast fortune to his children, claiming he will leave it to charity instead. He suggested it would ‘not be good for them’ to inherit such a large sum.

Some others are not quite so willing to give millions to their children

Share or comment on this article: Dragons' Den star Theo Paphitis: My kids won't cope if I don't leave them my fortune

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Theo Paphitis

Dragons’ Den star’s lingerie and stationery chains warn of doubts over finances

Theo Paphitis owns Boux Avenue and Ryman, which face ‘material uncertainty’ about remaining going concerns

The former Dragons’ Den panellist Theo Paphitis says retailers are facing “one of the most complex balancing acts ever”, as two of his retail businesses face “material uncertainty” about remaining going concerns after being forced into the red by the Covid crisis.

His Ryman stationery chain is struggling to refinance a £10m government-backed loan, half of which is due to be repaid in March, after reporting a £2m pre-tax loss in the year. The loss narrowed from £13.2m a year earlier after sales increased almost 40% to £105.6m thanks to the easing of pandemic restrictions.

However, in accounts filed at Companies House this week, Ryman’s directors said there was “material uncertainty that may cast significant doubt of the company’s ability to continue as a going concern” if the company was not able to extend its banking facilities and sales growth or planned cost savings fell below expectations.

Paphitis’s Boux Avenue lingerie retail chain also faces “material uncertainty” despite a 43% jump in sales to £67m, because it has net liabilities of £90m and made a £1.5m loss.

The former Dragon said Ryman had a 25-year relationship with NatWest, the bank behind its coronavirus business interruption Loan (CBIL), and he did not expect difficulties in extending the term and if necessary it could be repaid.

The entrepreneur said negotiations had largely been held up by a requirement for government approval to extend a CBIL.

Paphitis has promised to help support Ryman, into which he pumped about £8m during the pandemic, and Boux Avenue. “I am not concerned,” he said. “Either we will renew [the loan] or we will pay it back. I’m confident and happy to put my money where my mouth is.”

He said Ryman was taking longer to bounce back from the pandemic than his other retail businesses as many of its stores were in city centre locations that were suffering from the shift to working from home.

“It has still not returned to pre-pandemic levels of trade. Year to date, sales are up 16.5%, there is good growth coming through and that’s fantastic but you have got to understand where we have come from,” he said.

Sales at Robert Dyas rose by just over a third to £164m, helping the home and garden supplies retailer bounce back into the black with an £868,000 profit in the year to 26 March 2022 compared with a £2.1m loss a year before.

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Despite the difficulties at Ryman and Boux Avenue, Paphitis said he was “still confident on physical retail” and plans to open at least another seven Robert Dyas stores including one this week.

The entrepreneur, who is thought to have been among the suitors for Paperchase after the stationery retailer fell into administration last month, continues to look for potential acquisitions, saying “all our businesses were bought in bad times”.

He said any acquisitions would have to fit with changing habits, adding that “shopping local has benefited” from the shift to working from home during the pandemic.

He said it was not “all doom and gloom” as rents and business rates had dropped, but this had not offset big cost increases on energy and labour, which would hit businesses particularly hard from April when government relief on electricity and gas bills is curbed and the legal minimum wage goes up.

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