Theo Paphitis: 'People don't understand how important Hull is'
DEL Boy has a lot to answer for.
He may not personally have given Hull a bad name, but the Only Fools And Horses wheeler-dealer's depiction of the city in the infamous To Hull And Back episode made it the butt of many a joke.
This is something entrepreneur and Dragons' Den star Theo Paphitis points out when asked why he has chosen Hull for the opening of his latest Boux Avenue store.
He said: "Why Hull? A lot of people have asked me that very same question.
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"We were up in Merry Hill in Dudley, where we'll be opening another store this month, and as soon as you mention Hull people say, 'Hull?'
"People don't understand what an important part of the country Hull is.
"Ever since Del Boy did that episode in Hull, people have thought it was funny but I have businesses in the city already, and it is a natural place for Boux Avenue to be."
For those not accustomed to Boux Avenue, the concept could be described as 'affordable opulence', or, as Theo puts it, "all about great products and a wonderful experience in a fabulous setting, right down to the beautiful packaging."
Essentially, it is a far cry from the experience of buying "a bra in the same place as you would buy a cooked chicken, then putting them in a plastic bag before taking them both home".
Theo added: "I have been in this industry a few years now and when I speak to ladies, they say I'll never understand, but I do because I listen.
"What really struck me was the idea that if you feel good in your lingerie, you feel confident in yourself."
Boux currently has 13 stores throughout the country, and when the Hull store opens in St Stephen's on November 27, it will be the 16th in the portfolio.
At a time when even high-street stalwarts are falling victim to tumbling profits and store closures, is it not rather audacious to be on the verge of a significant store expansion?
"Once upon a time, just a few years ago in fact, we were in massive growth and if you opened a shop people would come and spend money," said Theo.
"That doesn't happen anymore and that is why lots of businesses are going bust.
"We are all still spending similar amounts to before but the difference now is people are being very careful about where they spend their hard-earned cash.
"People aren't just looking for value, though that is important.
"It is now increasingly about experience and feeling good."
As well as launching his latest store, while in Hull, Theo will also be catching up with the WedgeWelly team.
The Hull-based business was given £65,000 by the retail king, in return for a 25 per cent stake in the company, after they impressed him in the Dragons' Den.
Theo said: "Hull has got to be loud and proud about its achievements.
"The girls at WedgeWelly are certainly loud and proud and I encourage that – I think it's great.
"They went out with nothing and worked their wellies off, and now the company trades around the globe.
"Nobody is going to give you anything in this world.
"You have to be proactive."