Dragons' Den star Paphitis buys Robert Dyas


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The Independent Online

Dragons' Den star Theo Paphitis has bought the 140-year-old hardware retailer Robert Dyas in a deal understood to be worth about £10 million.

Mr Paphitis, who is chairman of stationery chain Ryman but more well-known for his long-standing role on the BBC entrepreneurship series, acquired the 96-strong chain through his wholly-owned company Gladys Emmanuel.

Mr Paphitis, 52, who has an estimated net worth of £210 million and also owns lingerie chain Boux Avenue, said: "It is a business which fits well with my investment criteria and I'm looking forward to working with the management team who have done an excellent job in getting Robert Dyas to where it is today."

Lloyds Banking Group, the largest shareholder in Robert Dyas with a 40 per cent stake, hired advisers earlier this year to explore options for the business including a sale.

Lloyds and fellow majority owner Allied Irish Bank acquired Robert Dyas, which employs some 1,100 staff across its stores and Leatherhead HQ, in a £30 million debt-for-equity swap.

Homeware has been one of the hardest-hit sectors of the high street as the sluggish property market and pressure on household incomes hit sales.

However, trading at Robert Dyas has been robust with like-for-like sales growth of 3.8 per cent in the company's financial year to March 31.

Geoff Brady, the outgoing chairman of Robert Dyas, who will be replaced by Mr Paphitis, said: "I am delighted that the business has attracted an entrepreneur of Theo's stature: his track record for growing retail businesses is second to none."

He added: "The sales process attracted a great deal of interest from potential buyers, both from the UK and overseas, but I believe this transaction provides significant benefits both to the Robert Dyas team and to our customers."

The current chief executive, Graham Coles, will stay in his position along with other members of the Robert Dyas board.

Mr Paphitis's empire spans retail, property, finance and consumer goods.

He bought the lingerie chain La Senza in 1998, revived its fortunes, and later sold his stake in the company to Lion Capital for £100 million.

Mr Paphitis also co-owns gift firm Red Letter Days, a company he salvaged out of administration.

Cavendish Corporate Finance was hired by Lloyds to advise on the sale of the business.