Theo Paphitis, the Dragon’s Den star and owner of both Ryman Stationery and lingerie retailer Boux Avenue, acquired the 96-store hardware chain Robert Dyas yesterday. Retail Week finds out what his plans are.
Why did you decide to buy Robert Dyas?
I like the business, I wouldn’t have bought it otherwise. The business fits into my view of the high street, it fits into convenience. There is nothing more convenient than Robert Dyas.
Boux fits in major shopping centres, it is mass market and a very different type of product. Robert Dyas is the high street, it is exactly where we expect convenience to be. You can drive to a big shed retailer and get products there but where it’s more convenient, is on the high street.
Robert Dyas is also all about service and heritage.
Do you think convenience is key?
If you look at the supermarkets such as M&S they have realised this and are opening convenience-sized stores. Consumers are spending money differently now, particularly with the internet. People want things instantly.
How will you grow the business?
Now it’s debt-free, the business has unburdened itself from the shackles of being owned by a bank. Now it can grow and flourish and we can get the right stock in place at the right time. Like any other retail estate we will get a couple of stores opening each year but we’re not looking for a massive change to the store portfolio.
Will you change the product range at all?
Robert Dyas has always sold electricals, tools and cleaning products [and it will continue to sell these].
Why is current chief executive Graham Coles the right person to lead the business?
Graham has been at the business since 2004 and he knows the business and steered it through some very, very difficult times. He has showed me what he can do.There is only so much I can do myself.
Are you seeking any other acquisitions?
We’re constantly looking and we see loads of things, some of which we bid for and others we don’t.