Paphitis in 2007
24 September 1959 |
|Occupation||Owner of Ryman, Robert Dyas, Boux Avenue|
|Known for||Dragons' Den|
|Net worth||£210 million|
Theo Paphitis (Greek: Θεόδωρος Παφίτης) (born 24 September 1959) is a retail magnate and British entrepreneur of Greek Cypriot origin. He made the majority of his fortune in the retail sector, and is best known to the general public for his appearances on the BBC business programme Dragons' Den and as former chairman of Millwall Football Club.
In the Sunday Times Rich List 2008, he was ranked 581st although[clarification needed] his estimated worth had increased to £135 million since 2007. The newspaper reported a rise in his wealth, in April 2009, to an estimated £165 million. The figures, as reported in The Sunday Times, are conservative when taking into account the £100 million he gained from the sale of La Senza in 2006.
Born in Limassol, Cyprus, Paphitis is the second of three brothers; elder brother Marinos and younger brother George. They share two half-brothers. He came to England with his parents and Marinos when he was nine years old. He attended Ambler Primary School, Islington and Woodberry Down comprehensive School, Manor House (closed in 1981) where he battled with dyslexia, but began his entrepreneurial activities by running his school tuckshop, at the age of 15.
Business career 
Paphitis took a job as a tea boy and filing clerk at a City of London insurance broker. Wanting more money, he discovered his passion for retailing and sales, working as a sales assistant for Watches of Switzerland in Bond Street.
Aged 23, he set up a property finance company with close friend and business associate Mark Moran, and kept going when the friend left in partnership with Hanover Druce, making his first money on the rise of the 1980s commercial property markets. Spotting the rise in mobile telephones, he bought into NAG Telecom, becoming chairman alongside fellow director Tony Kleanthous (now chairman of Barnet FC). Paphitis gained massive market share for NAG by negotiating concessionary positions in Ryman stationery stores.
When Ryman went bankrupt, Paphitis approached the administrators and bought the company. He turned it around by improving relations with suppliers, and enthusing the management team, cementing his reputation for turning failing companies into highly successful and profitable businesses. His ventures now include Ryman and Boux Avenue. He co-owns Red Letter Days with fellow Dragons' Den businessman Peter Jones. In 2006, he sold his equity stake in the UK and EU segment of the global lingerie brand, La Senza, for a reported £100m. He no longer has any involvement with La Senza (UK).
At the end of 2008 Paphitis was one of several interested parties in bidding for failed retail chain Woolworths. However he later pulled out because of unrealistic numbers quoted by the administrators.
As chairman from 1997, Paphitis took Millwall out of administration, took the team to Wembley Stadium, He is perhaps best known for his work to reduce football hooliganism, and appointing as Millwall manager Dennis Wise, who guided the club to their first official appearance in the FA Cup Final in 2004. Paphitis left Millwall on 21 July 2006 and was succeeded as Chairman by Peter de Savary.
After appearing on series four of the BBC Back to the Floor series while chairman at Millwall FC, and selling his stake a year later, Paphitis was approached to become one of the "dragons" in the second series of the BBC Two entrepreneurship series Dragons' Den in 2005 and has continued to appear in the show, which is now its tenth series (2012). Paphitis is known as a straight-talking but approachable and sincere 'dragon' who has made many investments on the show, both alone and jointly with other dragon investors. In February 2013, he announced that he would be leaving the show.
In 2010 Paphitis had a three-part TV series on BBC Two called Theo's Adventure Capitalists. The series followed British businesses looking to enter new markets in Brazil, India and Vietnam. The series was supported by the Open University.
In 2011 Paphitis presented the 7-part BBC Two series called Britain's Next Big Thing. The series examined the stories of artists, scientists, manufacturers and brand owners looking to sell their products and services to UK retailers including Boots and Liberty.
Business philosophy 
Paphitis attributes his success to his natural common sense, and his favourite motto is a famous business school motto: KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid. He has said that "There are three reasons to be in business. To make money, to have fun – and to make money."
Paphitis has been criticised for some of his views on business. In 2008 he was quoted by Kira Cochrane of The Guardian newspaper as saying that although women may refuse to take maternity leave, "their brains turn to mush" after the pregnancy and "they take three months off".
Paphitis is a supporter of small businesses, and runs a weekly competition for local businesses to have their message retweeted through his Twitter account.
Personal life 
Paphitis lives with his wife Debbie (whom he refers to as Mrs. P on Dragons' Den) in Weybridge, Surrey. They have five children – two sons and three daughters, including twins – and four grandchildren. Paphitis is dyslexic.
Known to be something of a "petrolhead" and a big fan of Formula One, his first car, like fellow "dragon" Peter Jones, was an Alfa Romeo Alfasud, and he presently owns a chrome Maybach 62, Mercedes SL63 AMG and a Toyota Land Cruiser. His car collection has a series of personalised number plates, including RYM4N (on the Maybach). When interviewed on the BBC show Top Gear in July 2008 he set a time of 1:48.5 around the Top Gear Test Track in the Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car segment. Jeremy Clarkson named Theo as "Theo Pamphlet" on the leaderboard. Paphitis' brother, Marinos, is director for the South Eastern region of the Learning & Skills Council.
- "Theo Paphitis". Sunday Times Rich List 2008 (London). 27 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-10.
- "Theo Paphitis – Biography". theopaphitis.com. Archived from the original on 13 January 2008. Retrieved 9 April 2010.
- "Enter the Dragon of balls, rubber and lingerie". This is London. 24 October 2007. Retrieved 2008-07-21.
- Paphitis, Theo (2010). Enter the Dragon. Hachette UK. ISBN 1-4091-2413-4.
- "La Senza sold to Lion Capital". fashionunited.co.uk. 13 July 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-13.
- "Dragon's (sic) Den star among Woolies bidders". Citiwire. 1 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-01.
- "Business | Dragon out of race for Woolworths". BBC News. 4 December 2008. Retrieved 2009-11-10.
- The Independent (London). 12 June 2011 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/dragon-takes-the-plunge-into-lingerie-2296348.html
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- Kelso, Paul (22 May 2004). "Millwall get FA Cup sympathy vote". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2008-11-10.
- "Dragons' Den – About the Show". BBC. Retrieved 2010-09-27.
- "Dragons' Den: Theo Paphitis says "I'm out"". BBC. Retrieved 2013-02-09.
- "Theo's Adventure Capitalists". BBC. Retrieved 2010-07-28.
- "Britain's Next Big Thing". BBC. Retrieved 2011-07-11.
- "Dragons' Den". BBC. Retrieved 2009-11-10.
- Cochrane, Kira (1 July 2008). "Now, the Blacklash". The Guardian Online (London). Retrieved 7 May 2011.
- "Grimsby entrepreneur gets a helping hand from Dragon Theo". This is Grimsby (Grimbsy). 30 January 2012. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
- "The Dragons' Stories: Theo". BBC. Retrieved 2008-11-10.[dead link]
- "Celebrity Number Plates Stories: Enter The Dragon – Theo Paphitis". Regtransfers.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-11-10.
- "Top Gear Celebrity Laps". BBC. Retrieved 2008-11-12.
- Theo Paphitis launches Simon Hughes' election campaign [1 April 2010]. London-se1.co.uk. Retrieved on 2012-08-24.