Theo Paphitis
Theo Paphitis is the proud ambassador for The National Enterprise Challenge

Theo Paphitis & The Leather Satchel CoThe National Enterprise Challenge is incredibly proud to have ex-Dragons Den star Theo Paphitis as our challenge ambassador. Helping promote key entrepreneurial skills to young people across the country. We’re also supported by Theo’s company – the stationery company, this has helped us reach even more schools to deliver our fantastic enterprise days to KS3 and KS4 students.

Every winning team of 6 students and 2 staff from every school that takes part in the challenge have guaranteed entry to our grand finals event, this year held at The Alton Towers Resort, where they will have a fantastic day of fun activities, inspirational talks, the judging rounds & final presentations as well as a Q&A session with Theo Paphitis himself.


Here’s a quick snippet from our 2014 grand finals held at the beautiful Trentham Estate in 2014.

We’re honoured to have as our Ambassador for The National Enterprise Challenge, Mr.Theo Paphitis.

Theo is one of the UK’s most high profile businessmen.  His empire spans retail, property, finance and consumer goods. 

The famous entrepreneur was born in Cyprus. His family emigrated to Britain in the 1960s and Theo first showed his business skills at the tender age of 15 when he was put in charge of his North London school’s tuck shop, achieving notable success. 

His formal working career started as an assistant to the tea boy with a Lloyds of London broker, before moving into retail at the age of 18.  He then moved into property and corporate finance, setting up his own company aged just 23.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 09.30.04Business ventures

He was Chairman of Millwall FC for eight years, taking the club out of administration and into the Championship, then onto the 2004 FA Cup Final against Manchester United and Europe. 

Theo’s business expertise has also revived the fortunes of notable retail brands such as , La Senza Lingerie (UK), Contessa Lingerie, Partners the Stationers, Stationery Box and most recently, Robert Dyas.

In 2008, he combined the stationery businesses to launch a new chain, Stationery ( where he is now Chairman. 

One of Theo’s more high profile retail initiatives is the creation of the highly innovative lingerie brand, Boux Avenue. There are twenty one stores in the UK, an interactive website ( and four international stores (Iceland, Gibraltar, Malta and Bulgaria).  The chain continues to expand rapidly across the Middle East and Asia.  Boux Avenue has won three Global Retail & Leisure International awards; Rising Star of the Year 2012 and UK Retailer of the Year in both 2013 and 2014.

Another high profile venture is Red Letter Days, the company he salvaged out of administration and which he now co-owns.

In July 2012, the Board of Robert Dyas Group announced the sale of the company to Gladys Emmanuel Limited, a company wholly owned by Theo, for an undisclosed sum.

Theo Wearing SunglassesTheo on TV

You will undoubtedly recognise Theo from his starring role in the BBC’s highly successful ‘Dragons’ Den’. He took part in 8 series, leaving the programme in 2013 to concentrate on his expanding business empire. 

Earlier this year, Theo took part in a two-part BBC documentary called ‘Famous, Rich and Hungry’ for Sport Relief.

During 2014, Theo is fronting a series of reports for the BBC’s ‘The One Show’, about small businesses around the UK.   

Small Business Sunday

Theo is a passionate champion of small businesses, and he instigated Small Business Sunday on Twitter, shortened to the hashtag #SBS. Each week, business owners are invited to tweet @TheoPaphitis, and include the hashtag #SBS, from 5.00 PM to 7.30 PM.  The best six tweets are re-tweeted every Monday evening at 8.00 PM to Theo’s following of over 430,000 people.  They are also profiled on a dedicated website

Theo’s life story – Enter the Dragon – is published by Orion Books in paperback.  It gives an insight into the thoughts and aspirations of one of the UK’s most popular entrepreneurs.

Theo and the TNEC TeamPromoting entrepreneurship

Theo is Patron of the ‘The Skills Show’ that takes place each year at the NEC in Birmingham.  It’s the UK’s biggest skills and careers event, offering exciting opportunities in further education, skills and apprenticeships. 

He is also a Director of ‘Comic Relief’ and together with colleagues from Stationery and Robert Dyas, Theo has raised over £2 million for good causes.

In September 2008, he launched the University of Huddersfield’s degree in ‘Enterprise Development‘, to help aspiring entrepreneurs launch their business whilst studying for a degree. Theo continues to support the degree with masterclasses and mentoring for students.

As if he wasn’t busy enough already, Theo is with us here today.

“It’s really easy for me to support The National Enterprise Challenge, due to my inexhaustible passion for furthering the entrepreneurial spirit, not only in adults but just as importantly, in Britain’s school children,” he said.

“People often ask me, ‘are entrepreneurs born or made?’  The simple answer is that nurturing the inner entrepreneur in all of us at a young age is the catalyst that then develops the passion required to become a successful entrepreneur in the future.

I applaud Ben and Michael for launching this brilliant initiative, and the team and myself are very excited about the finals today.”

Theo Paphitis social media



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