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Frills and spills as former Dragon's Den star Theo Paphitis unveils new Belfast lingerie store

By John Mulgrew

Published 06/02/2016

Theo Paphitis with the models at the Boux Avenue grand launch in Belfast
Theo Paphitis with the models at the Boux Avenue grand launch in Belfast
Telegraph journalist John Mulgrew and boss Theo Paphitis

There was a touch of lace-led sultry and seductive glamour in Belfast yesterday with the official unveiling of the latest lingerie brand to land in Northern Ireland.

Former Dragons Den star Theo Paphitis officially unveiled his first branch of bra and lingerie business Boux Avenue - flanked by a host of models, and current Miss Northern Ireland Leanne McDowell.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph inside the glam and glossy, mid-priced boutique, the 56-year-old mogul said he was confident that the "affordable" classy range would blossom in the city.

"It's very affordable. The whole point of Boux is to give the unaffordable, affordability," he said.

"You don't have to go into a store that looks like a village rag and bone sale, you can give quality. It's all about service, and making the person that buys the product feel special."

Boux Avenue sells a range of lingerie, nightwear and swimwear - with some items going for less than a tenner.

But it's got its work cut out as it will be competing with some of the world's top brands at its new Victoria Square home.

That includes US fashion giant Calvin Klein's own specialist underwear store, while a host of other top names are also sold at department store House of Fraser.

And aside from his foray into the frilly and fancy, he also revealed he'll be returning to TV screens in a new business series.

"I still do The One Show and that's good fun. I've got a couple of other projects on the go which aren't announced at the moment, so I'm going back into (regular) television," he said.

"I did (Dragons Den) for eight years; when you do something for eight years, you need to move on."

Theo also blasted Belfast's "high business rates", after claiming they are a "barrier" to doing business here.

"It's the 28th Boux store (in the UK). It's taken us an age to get here. It's taken a lot of time to get the right site, and when we did, it took us a long time to get through the deal," he said.

"Belfast is quite tight, and there are very few retail opportunities. You have got incredibly expensive business rates, some of the highest in the country, which makes it very difficult to be economically viable."

Despite the difficulties getting started, Theo has not been entirely put off, and says he'll bring other brands here.

"For us, the hardest thing of all was dipping our toe in. We are here now. It's been tough, but we got here because we believe in Belfast."

But despite many in the business community already setting out their stall in favour of the UK remaining part of the EU, Mr Paphitis says his decision is "on a knife-edge".

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