Theo Paphitis in Plymouth – on Business
Theo Paphitis is one of the best-known names in British business. Having already established his name and reputation as a specialist in turning around ailing businesses, he hit public fame as one of the panel of entrepreneurs on Dragon’s Den. Theo Paphitis rapidly became known for his sense of humour as well as his business acumen. He chose Plymouth as the home of his latest Boux Avenue store (you can read our interview with him about that here) but we couldn’t resist the opportunity to talk to him about business in general.
How do you begin a conversation with someone who’s name is as well-known as Theo Paphitis? His own book Enter the Dragon begins with a revelation: apparently his name isn’t Theo Paphitis at all. Because of a clerical mixup with his grandfather, his family has had the wrong surname for years. It turns out that Theo didn’t discover this until he was 47! So if you ever meet him in person, you may want to try calling him Mr Charalambos instead. The book, by the way, is a terrific read, partly humorous autobiography, partly manifesto for his unique approach to life, and there’s even a chapter full of his business rules.
Here’s how our conversation went:
Why did you choose Plymouth for your newest Boux Avenue shop?
Plymouth is a thriving shopping destination and we’re not the only people to realise how important Plymouth is to retail. It’s not easy to find the right shop for your brand and in the right place, so when the opportunity arose to take the store in Drake Circus Shopping Centre, we jumped at the chance.
How did you come up with the name Boux Avenue?
Boux folklore has it that a stunningly beautiful French girl once stole the heart of one of the brand’s creators. Her name…? was Boux.
What is Boux Avenue’s USP?
It’s a destination for quality, affordable, fantastic lingerie in all sizes – set in amazing shops where the customer service is unrivalled and the experience leaves you wanting more. My vision for the brand’s future is for it to be the first name on everybody’s lips when talking about lingerie.
Plymouth is a city of entrepreneurs. What is the single biggest tip you can give a new business to help them survive their first year?
Business is about common sense and doing your homework, coupled with copious amounts of passion. Common sense is not common. Not everybody does the requisite amount of homework before starting a business, which is why so many small businesses fail in the first 2 years. And you will need to have a passion for what you do, because that’s what is going to get you through the troughs that you will undoubtedly encounter throughout your business career.
Boux Avenue has a strong online presence via its website and social media. How important do you feel an active social media identity is for brands in the UK?
Hugely important. It’s another way to connect and engage with your customer. Social media is all about creating a personality for your brand which gives your target market something to identity with.
One Last Bit of Business Advice
Whatever you use for his surname, Theo Paphitis is an interesting person with more than a dash of impish humour. No doubt that has sustained him during the many ups and downs of his business career. I’ll finish with my favourite Paphitis business tip: Reduce the Risk. Too many times we hear business ‘gurus’ advise us that risk is vital in business and that we have to embrace it. That may be true in certain circumstances, but it’s not something we should seek out. Young entrepreneurs can sometimes assume that they have to look for risk. The Paphitis path to business success is to size up the opportunities and then systematically reduce the possibility of failure. Business success is not for the pointless thrill-seeker. If you are in it for the risk, take up sky-diving.