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Paphitis: “The snow froze sales at Ryman”

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But the frosty weather was a blessing in disguise. “Sales shot through the roof during the following two days,” says Paphitis, who bought the chain in 1995 when it went into receivership. “People couldn’t get into work – so they needed to kit out their home offices.”

Paphitis set up his own company when he was in his early twenties, then became a “turnaround specialist” – buying up ailing companies such as Movie Media Sports, La Senza and Partners the Stationer and reviving their fortunes.

But the Cyprus-born entrepreneur admits that he “hasn’t had a single original idea” in his life: “I’ve just borrowed and stolen other people’s ideas – then executed them better.

“People always ask me what my ‘lightbulb’ moment was. There wasn’t one. I think it’s ridiculous to say that entrepreneurs get a flash of inspiration while they’re lying in the bath. If I waited around for that to happen, I’d still be stuck in that bath and my skin would have shriveled up!”

Theo Paphitis was interviewed as part of the My Greatest Inspiration campaign, in association with Orange. Watch his vodcast on Real Business TV later this month.

We’re giving Real Business readers the chance to win a signed copy of Theo Paphitis’ book, Enter the Dragon: How I transformed my life and how you can too. Just answer the following question: Theo’s first job was as a tea boy for which company?

Email your answer to kate@realbusiness.co.uk before noon on Friday 13 March, together with your postal address. The winner will be picked at random.

Related articles:Snow fall: who’s to blame?Paphitis gets behind prisoner rehabilitation charity

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