Theo Paphitis

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Theo Paphitis
Theo Paphitis.jpg
Paphitis in 2007
Born (1959-09-24) 24 September 1959 (age 58)
Limassol, Cyprus
Occupation Owner of Ryman, Robert Dyas, Boux Avenue
Known for Dragons' Den, former Chairman of Millwall F.C.
Net worth £280 million
Spouse(s) Debbie Paphitis
Children 5
Family Two brothers-Two half brothers.

Theodoros 'Theo' Paphitis (Greek: Θεόδωρος Παφίτης) (born 24 September 1959) is a Cypriot-born British retail magnate and entrepreneur of Greek Cypriot origin. He 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.

Paphitis has made the majority of his fortune in the retail sector. In 2006, he sold his equity stake in the lingerie brand La Senza for a reported £100 million. He is the owner of stationery chain Ryman, the homewares specialist Robert Dyas and lingerie retailer Boux Avenue.

The 2017 Sunday Times Rich List estimated his wealth at £286 million, listing him as the 406th richest person in the UK.[1]


Early life[edit]

Born in Limassol, Cyprus,[2] 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 the school tuckshop, at the age of 15.

Business career[edit]

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 when at 18 he worked as a sales assistant for Watches of Switzerland in Bond Street.[3]

Aged 21, he joined Legal & General selling commercial mortgages, which taught him to read other businesses' balance sheets.

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.[3] Spotting the rise in mobile telephones, he bought into NAG Telecom, becoming chairman alongside fellow director Tony Kleanthous. Paphitis gained a large market share for NAG by negotiating concessionary positions in Ryman stationery stores.[4]

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,[3] cementing his reputation for turning failing companies into highly successful and profitable businesses. His ventures now include Ryman, Robert Dyas 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.[5]

In 2008, Paphitis was one of several interested parties in bidding for failed retail chain Woolworths.[6] However he later pulled out because of unrealistic numbers quoted by the administrators.[7]

In March 2011, Paphitis set up a new lingerie chain, Boux Avenue[8] which by the end of 2013 had grown to 21 stores in the UK with a further four internationally.

In July 2012, he bought the hardware retailer Robert Dyas. Paphitis said: "It is a business which fits well with my investment criteria."[9]


As chairman from 1997, Paphitis took Millwall out of administration and on to the 2004 FA Cup Final at the Millennium Stadium. He is perhaps best known for his work to reduce football hooliganism, and appointing as Millwall manager Dennis Wise, and together they guided the club to their first official appearance in the final of the FA Cup and into European football.[10] After almost eight years at the helm of Millwall, Paphitis stepped down from his role as chairman in 2005.[11]

Paphitis is a director and part-owner of Isthmian League side Walton & Hersham.[citation needed] Paphitis' other companies became sponsors of the League's cup competitions with Robert Dyas sponsoring cup tournaments. Boux Avenue became title sponsor of the Boux Avenue Women's Cup.


After appearing on series four of the BBC Back to the Floor series while chairman at Millwall FC, Paphitis was approached to become one of the "dragons" in the second series of the BBC Two entrepreneurship series Dragons' Den in 2005 and left the programme after the 2012 season.[12] Paphitis was known as a straight-talking but approachable and sincere 'dragon' who 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.[13]

In 2010, Paphitis had a three-part television 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.[14]

In 2011, Paphitis presented the seven-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.[15]

After time away from television to concentrate on business, Paphitis returned with appearances on BBC's Question Time and ITV's The Agenda. In March 2014, he appeared in Famous, Rich and Hungry, a two-part BBC documentary series which aimed to promote awareness of British people living in poverty, and raise money for Sport Relief.

Business philosophy[edit]

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."[16]

Paphitis has been criticised for some of his views on women. 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".[17]

Personal life[edit]

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.[18][19]

Paphitis is a keen fan of cars and of Formula One.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] His car collection has a series of personalised number plates, including RYM4N (on the Maybach).[20] On 13 June 2017, the burglar who stole Paphitis' Land Rover received a jail sentence of two-and-a-half years.[21]

He voted Leave in the 2016 EU referendum.[22]


  1. ^ "2017 Sunday Times Rich List". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 14 January 2018. 
  2. ^ "Theo Paphitis – Biography". Archived from the original on 13 January 2008. Retrieved 9 April 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c "Enter the Dragon of balls, rubber and lingerie". This is London. 24 October 2007. Retrieved 21 July 2008. 
  4. ^ Paphitis, Theo (2010). Enter the Dragon. Hachette UK. ISBN 1-4091-2413-4. 
  5. ^ "La Senza sold to Lion Capital". 13 July 2006. Retrieved 13 July 2006. 
  6. ^ "Dragon's (sic) Den star among Woolies bidders". Citiwire. 1 December 2008. Archived from the original on 29 July 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2008. 
  7. ^ "Dragon out of race for Woolworths". BBC News. 4 December 2008. Retrieved 10 November 2009. 
  8. ^ "Dragon takes the plunge into lingerie". The Independent. London. 12 June 2011. 
  9. ^ "Theo Paphitis buys Robert Dyas chain for £10m". The Guardian. London. 10 July 2012. Retrieved 16 October 2013. 
  10. ^ Kelso, Paul (22 May 2004). "Millwall get FA Cup sympathy vote". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 10 November 2008. 
  11. ^ "Burnige named Millwall chairman". BBC Sport. 7 February 2005. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  12. ^ "Dragons' Den – About the Show". BBC. Retrieved 27 July 2015. 
  13. ^ "Dragons' Den: Theo Paphitis says "I'm out"". BBC. Retrieved 9 February 2013. 
  14. ^ "Theo's Adventure Capitalists". BBC. Retrieved 28 July 2010. 
  15. ^ "Britain's Next Big Thing". BBC. Retrieved 11 July 2011. 
  16. ^ "Dragons' Den". BBC. Retrieved 11 October 2009. 
  17. ^ Cochrane, Kira (1 July 2008). "Now, the Blacklash". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  18. ^ "The Dragons' Stories: Theo". BBC. Archived from the original on 13 September 2008. Retrieved 10 November 2008. 
  19. ^ "Theo Paphitis: Branded lazy at school but I was dyslexic". Daily Express. 5 May 2013. Archived from the original on 5 May 2013. 
  20. ^ "Celebrity Number Plates Stories: Enter The Dragon – Theo Paphitis". Retrieved 10 November 2009. 
  21. ^ "Burglar who stole Dragons' Den star Theo Paphitis' £45,000 Land Rover is jailed for two-and-a-half years". The Sun. 13 June 2017. 
  22. ^ Paphitis, Theo (10 June 2016). "I'm OUT... but there's a third way in the EU referendum". Daily Express. 

External links[edit]