Theo Paphitis is one of the best known business magnates in the retail sector. He gained national fame in the UK by appearing on the BBC business programme Dragons’ Den.
Paphitis has made a large proportion of his fortune through the famous lingerie brand La Senza as well as investments across a multitude of industries.
Theo Paphitis’ Early Life
Cyprus born Paphitis showed his business skills at an early age after his family emigrated to the UK. At the tender age of fifteen he successfully managed the Tuck Shop at his school in London. His first job was a ‘tea boy’ and filing clerk at a City of London Insurance Broker. His desire to improve his finances led him to discover his passion and skills in retail sales when he worked selling watches for Watches of Switzerland on the famous Bond Street in London. Paphitis then moved into property and finance when, at the still young age of twenty three, he set up his own company.
Theo Paphitis’ estimated net worth is $324 Million.
Theo Paphitis the Entrepreneur
When Paphitis’ business partner and friend left their property finance company, he kept going and made his first money when the commercial property market rose in the eighties. Paphitis then noticed the rise of mobile telephones and he bought into NAG Telecom and became chairman. The company gained a large market share through Paphitis’ negotiations with Ryman stores to secure concessionary positions.
When Ryman filed for bankruptcy, Paphitis purchased the company. He then improved relationships with suppliers, motivated the management team and turned the company around. This confirmed his now growing reputation for taking failing companies and turning them into profitable ones. Paphitis also co-owns Red Letter Days with fellow ‘TV Dragon’, Peter Jones and he sold his equity stake in the global lingerie brand La Senza for more than $150 Million in 2006.
Keen to return to the lingerie business, Paphitis set up a new chain, Boux Avenue that grew to more than twenty stores within two years. In the summer of 2012, the homewares specialist chain, Robert Dyas joined Paphitis’ retail portfolio after the company ‘fitted his investment criteria’. This has taken the combined size of Paphitis’ empire to 349 stores and 3,600 employees, serving in excess of twenty eight million customers every year.
“There’s not much difference between a fantasist and a visionary. We all have dreams and without dreams in business, I don’t believe you can be successful. The trick is to turn them into reality.” – Theo Paphitis
Theo Paphitis’ Business Philosophy
Paphitis is a self-confessed fan of ‘common sense’ in business, in fact, he believes that it is the key to his success. Paphitis regularly repeats the famous business school motto “KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid” and says that there are 3 reasons to be in business, “To make money, to have fun and to make money’.
Paphitis is an avid supporter of small and up and coming businesses. He even runs a weekly competition on social media (#SBS or Small Business Sunday) where businesses compete to have a message retweeted by his personal account.
“One of the things I preach to all my staff is never be frightened to make a decision.” – Theo Paphitis
Theo Paphitis on TV
Whilst chairman of Millwall Football Club, Paphitis appeared on BBC series, Back to the Floor. As a result of this, he was asked to appear in the second series of Dragons’ Den. Paphitis appeared on the show for seven years before leaving in 2012. Paphitis made many investments in the startup companies featured on the programme and he became loved for his straight talking and approachable demeanour.
Paphitis has alos made several other TV appearances outside of Dragons’ Den including Theo’s Adventure Capitalists, and Britain’s Next Best Thing for the BBC and The Agenda for ITV.
Theo Paphitis’ Charity Work
The Paphitis Charitable Trust takes Theo Paphitis’ fees from his media appearances, his speeches and his book and distributes them to charities close to his heart, most of which are children’s charities. He has also teamed up with his 2,200 colleagues at Ryman and raised in excess of $2 Million for UK Charity Comic Relief, aiming to tackle many issues nationally and internationally.
Theo Paphitis found his passion, developed that passion and succeeded at that passion. An ability to spot an opportunity to turn a business around, to get into a business or to sell a business has made Theo Paphitis hundreds of millions of dollars. It is amazing how he has always been able to squeeze every bit of juice out of every opportunity and remain ready for the next one.
As Theo Paphitis continues to build his portfolio and his personal brand, he still finds the time to help small businesses in an inspirational manner.
The main lesson that we can learn from Theo Paphitis is to take advantage of an opportunity when the time is right and work hard enough to make success inevitable.