Dragons’ Den panel member Theo Paphitis felt at home when addressing a sell-out audience of 240 at a Young Norwood fundraiser in Central London last week.
Interviewed before a question and answer session, the entrepreneur revealed: “My wife is a nice Jewish girl and I have always found Jewish and Greek cultures to be very similar. You have to remember that Cyprus is literally a stone’s throw from Israel. We eat similar foods, look similiar and have a Mediterranean culture.”
He also spent some of his formative years in Stamford Hill and in Camden Road, next door to the then JFS site.
He told Young Norwood that the greatest day of his life had been “meeting my wife all those years ago as a young man when she worked as a receptionist and I had only recently started working”. And after buying La Senza, “telling my missus that I worked in the lingerie business was pretty awkward”.
Critical of the government’s handling of the credit crunch, he maintained: “We cannot deal with the economic crisis simply by increasing spending and lowering interest rates.”
The choice of Deloitte partner Neville Kahn as his interviewer was apposite as Mr Kahn had been the Woolworths’ administrator and Mr Paphitis had tried unsuccessfully to launch a rescue package.
“This man next to me is the reason that I do not own Woolworths,” he joked. “He has created more redundancies and led to more job centres being built than anyone in England.”
And asked who he would most like to be on a desert island with, he replied: “It certainly wouldn’t be anyone on Dragons’ Den.” The event raised £19,000.