About Theo Paphitis
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 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 before returning to his passion; retail.
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 has revived the fortunes of such notable retail brands as La Senza, Contessa Lingerie, Ryman, Partners the Stationers and Stationery Box, and 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 still owner and Chairman today.
Theo launched the highly award-winning lingerie and nightwear brand, Boux Avenue, in spring 2011. Boux Avenue is an online business, with 30 UK stores across the UK.
In July 2012, the 96-store homewares specialist chain, Robert Dyas joined Theo's retail portfolio.
In October 2016 Theo acquired The London Graphic Centre. This means that across Ryman, Boux Avenue, Robert Dyas and the London Graphic Centre, the Theo Paphitis Retail Group comprises around 330 stores and over 4,000 employees who serve around 28 million customers a year.
Theo is also a director of MB Partners, a sports marketing boutique, alongside F1 legend Mark Blundell http://www.markblundellpartners.com/
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.
Theo was an ambassador for the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital for ten years and a patron for Shooting Star Chase. His own charity, The Paphitis Charitable Trust, also supports many smaller charities across the UK. Theo and his businesses have also raised over £4.7m for Comic Relief and Sport Relief over the years and
Theo was a director of Comic Relief from 2012 until 2018.
Enterprise, Small business and education
In 2010 small business champion Theo launched #SBS Small Business Sunday, from his kitchen table on Twitter to help small businesses. This now has over 2,500 #SBS winners in the network, a free annual event and expansive business network. He is passionate about creating and supporting entrepreneurs and encouraging start ups across the UK. www.theopaphitissbs.com for more information.
Theo is a long-standing ambassador of the Ryman National Enterprise Challenge, encouraging young people to get work ready and understand the world of business before starting work. He was also a Skills Show patron from 2012-2015, the nation’s largest skills and careers event, that helps to shape the futures and careers of a new generation.
In August 2018, Theo took up a new role as Chancellor of Solent University.
Through his appearances on BBC’s Dragons’ Den from 2005 to 2012, Theo has advised many entrepreneurs and invested in several innovative businesses and brands.
He has 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.
In recent years, Theo has held a regular business slot on The One Show and contributed to current affairs and news programmes such as Question Time, on TV and radio.
Theo lives in Surrey with his wife Debbie. They have five children and several grandchildren.
To find out more about Theo please visit the website here.