He is one of United Kingdom’s highly profiled entrepreneurs and among the world’s richest; Theo Paphitis ranks in the best known business magnates of the world who have made a big name for themselves in the retail sector.
Paphitis was born in Limassol, Cyprus and moved to England with his family when he was nine. The young Paphitis battled Dyslexia however this did not hinder his entrepreneurial activities that had begun at the age of 15 when he started his own tuckshop at school. The formal beginning of Paphitis’s career was with his job as tea boy at the City of London insurance broker. He realized his desire to work in retail and sales while he worked as a sales assistant for Watches of Switzerland. At 21, he landed a job at Legal and General where he mastered the art of retailing by selling mortgages. After two years he co-founded a company with a friend and colleague Mark Moran, dealing with property finance. The company profited immensely when commercial property market value rose in the 1980s. Paphitis spotted the boom in the telecom sector and bought shares in NAG telecom, eventually buying the entire company. His business endeavors include the lingerie chain ‘Boux Avenue’ and the stationery selling brand ‘Ryman’. He is also the co-owner of Red Letter Days.
Paphitis became popular for turning around ailing companies. Movie Media Sports, Contessa, La Senza lingerie chains and Partners the Stationer are some of the companies that he turned into profitable ventures. It is reported that he sold his equity stake in the brand La Senza for £100 million. He was also interested in bidding for Woolworths, which was becoming a failed chain however later he pulled back because he said that the figures they were demanding were impractical. Paphitis was the chairman of ‘Millwall Football Club’ from 1997 till 2006. He is credited for doing a lot of work to remove hooliganism in football. He owns a large fraction of Isthmian League side ‘Walton & Hersham’ which is sponsored by his Ryman stationery.
Theo Paphitis made television appearances on the series BBC Back to the Floor. He was also one of the ‘Dragons’ in the show ‘Dragon’s Den’ which was based on entrepreneurship. He has participated in all the seasons including the tenth season that aired in 2012. He also appeared in other series including ‘Theo’s Adventure Capitalists’ and ‘Britain’s Next Big Thing’ which was based on stories of successful people and how they made their mark.
Paphitis works with a philosophy and motto of ‘keep it Simple Stupid’ also known as KISS. According to him there are only three reasons to enter into the business world ‘To make money, to have fun and to make more money’. Currently he is lives in Weybridge, Surrey with his five children. He has a net worth of £210 million and ranked 581 in the Sunday Times ‘Rich List’ in 2008. He has been awarded three honorary doctorates from University of Middlesex, University of Huddersfield and Southampton Solent University.