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NEWS: Dragon becomes retail skills patron


Dragon's Den star Theo Paphitis is to become a Skillsmart Retail patron with special responsibilities for the new National Skills Academy for Retail.

The retailer will work alongside other high profile industry figures to raise awareness of the importance of skills in his new role.

Paphitis - the chairman of the Ryman's Stationery chain - is a keen supporter of the National Skills Academy for Retail, which was launched on 29 April, and will see a national network of walk-in skills shops designed to improve skill levels.

Theo Paphitis commented: “I believe that every successful retail business has to have the right people with the right skills if they want to succeed.

“The National Skills Academy will give retailers of all sizes an amazing opportunity to give their staff the very best training which will boost the sector, so I am very proud to be behind the project. By working together we can help show retail off as a real profession and give those working in the sector the recognition they deserve.”

Skillsmart Retail chief executive Anne Seaman added: “Theo is an inspirational character and we hope that his enthusiasm and charisma will help us to show off the importance of a highly skilled retail workforce.

“His work promoting the National Skills Academy will be vital in showing just how much potential the network has, and we are very much looking forward to working with him.”

Theo Paphitis first set up his own company at the age of 23 and has since purchased and turned around retail chains including Ryman, Partners the Stationer, Stationery Box, Contessa and La Senza. He is the chairman of Ryman Stationery and the joint owner of experience acquisition company Red Letter Days alongside fellow dragon Peter Jones.

As a Skillsmart Retail patron, he will act as an advocate for a highly-skilled retail sector. Alongside promoting the National Skills Academy he will also act as Apprentices’ ambassador and will support other Skillsmart Retail solutions including the Diploma in Retail Business and the Retail Ambassadors project.

His arrival at the Sector Skills Council comes just a month after’s Nick Robertson was named as a patron - tthey join existing patrons Ian Cheshire, chief executive Kingfisher plc, Charles Dunstone, chief executive The Carphone Warehouse Group plc, Belinda Earl, chief executive Jaeger Ltd, Justin King, group chief executive Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd, Sir Terry Leahy, chief executive Tesco plc, Jerry Marwood, UK managing director SPAR, Charlie Mayfield, chairman John Lewis Partnership plc and Sir Stuart Rose, chairman Marks & Spencer plc.

For more information about Skillsmart Retail’s work go to and for more about the National Skills Academy for Retail go to


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