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Theo Paphitis

Theo Paphitis runs a business empire spanning retail, property, finance and consumer goods and spent many series on the BBC’s Dragon’s Den.

Born in Cyprus, Theo left school at 16 with no qualifications due to dyslexia and began work as a tea boy and filing clerk in a Lloyds of London brokerage. He discovered a passion for retail after taking a job at Watches of Switzerland and then returned to the insurance sector in a customer facing role, laying the foundations for his future business empire.

Theo has revived the fortunes of several well-known high street brands: Ryman Stationery, La Senza lingerie, Contessa lingerie, Partners the Stationers, Stationery Box and, more recently, home and garden retailer Robert Dyas. In 2011, he also launched global lingerie brand Boux Avenue.
From 1997, Theo spent eight years as Chairman of Millwall Football Club, when they achieved promotion to the Championship and reached the 2004 FA Cup Final against Manchester United. He was also elected an FA Councillor and a Director of the Football League.

His television appearances include BBC’s Dragon’s Den, Theo’s Adventure Capitalists, Britain’s Next Big Thing, Back to the Floor and The One Show. He is also a Director of Comic Relief and runs his own charity, The Theo Paphitis Charitable Trust, alongside his patronage of the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, the Shooting Star Chase Children’s Hospice and the Skills Show.Theo is also an Ambassador for The Ryman National Enterprise Challenge, launched in 2013 by Staffordshire University graduates Ben and Michael Dyer. The inter school competition is aimed at developing the enterprise skills of young people and has now involved over 60,000 pupils from more than 200 schools. Staffordshire University is the initiative’s education partner and, previously, Theo visited the Stoke-on-Trent campus to launch the 2015 challenge.

The Award of Honorary Doctor of the University is bestowed upon Theo in recognition of his dedication to enterprise, entrepreneurialism and employability. It also recognises his inspirational success in business, becoming the owner of a joint retail portfolio of 349 stores and 4000 employees.

Photo of Theo Paphitis

Theo Paphitis was bestowed the award in 2016

I have many links to Staffordshire from Ryman stores in the county to over twenty of my Small Business Sunday winners, and I am delighted to be associated with some stellar alumni from many of my favourite preoccupations; football, music and comedy. I am thrilled to receive the Honorary Doctor of Staffordshire University award and look forward to seeing how its alumni will continue to create the difference and be the disrupters of future in whatever field they choose.

Theo Paphitis