Dragons' Den star Theo Paphitis set to snap up Robert Dyas for £10m


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The Independent Online

Theo Paphitis, the owner of the stationery retailer Ryman, is poised to acquire the hardware chain Robert Dyas for up to £10m.

The star of the BBC series Dragons' Den is in advanced talks about purchasing the 100-store chain, and a deal could be unveiled over the coming days.

Robert Dyas has been majority-owned by its lenders since a debt-for-equity swap with Lloyds Banking Group and Allied Irish Bank (AIB) in 2009. Lloyds, the biggest shareholder with a 40 per cent stake, put the ironmonger up for sale this year by hiring advisers at Cavendish Corporate Finance, which declined to comment.

Wilkinson was the other main contender that examined acquiring Robert Dyas. But the UK's eighth-biggest private retailer pulled out of the bidding process last month.

The price tag of up to £10m that Mr Paphitis – who was unavailable for comment – wants to pay for Robert Dyas includes some of the chain's debt with Lloyds and AIB.

It is understood he will take on the pension liabilities of Robert Dyas, which posted underlying profits of £3m in 2011.

A Lloyds spokesman said: "We continue to remain supportive of the company and we are focused on ensuring the success of the current sale process."

As well as controlling Ryman, Mr Paphitis owns the lingerie chain Boux Avenue.

Brent Wilkinson, who was the chief executive of Robert Dyas from 2000 until 2004, and Roger Pedder, the retailer's chairman between 1997 and 2004, also put in a bid to acquire their former retail company. However, this was thought to have been lower than what Lloyds had wanted.