Theo Paphitis: A Unique Approach for a Unique Business

December 21, 2023

Chairman of MBP, Theo Paphitis, proudly looks back on the company’s successful journey to date and details why the road ahead looks even more exciting

For what started out as a chance meeting, the journey of MBP and its success over the past ten years owes a great deal to a careful, deliberate strategy. And while diligent planning and a detailed approach run through all of Theo Paphitis’ successes in business, MBP’s Chairman is firm in his statement that the business owes the majority of its achievements to its people.

“Our work at MBP has always centered around the importance of relationships, and naturally as a result, that means it all comes down to people. The people that we choose to work with, the people that we choose to work for and the people who we choose to work for us. When I reflect on the journey that MBP has been on, it always comes back to people and the community that the business has built and surrounded itself with.”

Rewinding the clock back ten years, Theo details how getting to know Mark Blundell himself was just as important as undertaking due diligence on the business and its plans moving forward.

“I remember sitting in The Ivy Club having lunch with Deborah Meaden and I said to her that someone was waving at her from across the room. She was quick to respond that he must have been waving at me as she had no idea who he was! It turned out to be Mark who introduced himself, as Mark and I were both due to be at the same event a week later with Martin Brundle.

“As these things go, we caught up again the week after and our conversations developed. Mark was already running the business successfully in the talent representation space. It wasn’t something we were actively looking to get into at the time but as we continued to chat, it was clear to see that we were aligned in the way we saw sport and business converging. Both Mark and I, and Ian [Childs], felt that the representation sector was bloated by the big agencies and there was a space for a more boutique approach, particularly in motorsport, where Mark had already garnered a fantastic reputation.”

Fast forward to the latter part of 2013 and the stars had aligned to see Theo and Ian join Mark as shareholders and directors as MB Partners was formally launched at McLaren, One Hyde Park.

“For me, my passion has always been about building things and I could see the potential that MBP had from early on in our conversations. Mark was always quite firm that he wanted the business to operate in his way which is different from the majority of the bigger players. Approaching a sector in a different way is always an interesting place for a small, growing business.

“Mark, Ian and I have always enjoyed a strong friendship but we all know that when it comes to business, our relationship is entirely professional which means we aren’t afraid to have awkward conversations and make, at times, difficult decisions. That has stood us in good stead and will continue to do so.”

While the principles of the business, being relationship-led and intensely focused on client delivery, remain as true ten years on as they were at the outset, the shape of the business has grown and changed over the years. Where the business was initially solely focused on the representation side of sport, it has diversified into new divisions spanning sponsorship consultancy, digital marketing, events management and the company’s B2B partner programme - something which Theo cares deeply about.

“What the business has done so well is it has always focused on ensuring that outstanding client delivery remains constant. When you do that consistently, it is no surprise that you find fellow best-in-class providers aligning themselves with your work. That is how the partner programme started all those years ago and now we have developed a really powerful partnership community of over thirty companies who are all best-in-class at what they do.

“A business’ network is its greatest currency and we noticed that very early on in MBP’s journey. It’s not through luck, it’s taken years to build an ecosystem of partners who are like-minded and actively wish to support one another - I take great pride in the stories of collaboration and community that we hear about from our network so regularly.”

With his eyes set on the future, Theo’s excitement at the direction of MBP as a full-service sports marketing agency is clear to see. 

“We’ve intentionally always been one of the quieter guys in our industry - we are very happy to let our work do our talking for us. That won’t change but what our rebrand is all about is showcasing to those who already trust us to work on their behalf, the depth and breadth of what the agency can do.

“If I ask myself what good looks like for the agency moving forward, it is about deepening our relationships with our partnership community - supporting them in new ways, across all things events, all things digital, sponsorship consultancy and much more. We’ve built up a great deal of trust with our long-term partners and we are hugely energised to support them in new ways as we look ahead to the future.”