From the top · 27 June 2018

Posh Pawn TV star James Constantinou: “I’ve always been in business for myself”

James Constantinou is the face of Channel 4 show Posh Pawn

For James Constantinou, star of Channel 4’s pawnbroking show Posh Pawn, working for somebody else was never an option. With expansion of his Prestige Pawn stores on the cards, we caught up with the entrepreneur to find out what made him start out in business and the road ahead.

Known for his high-end pawnbroking talents on Posh Pawn, which is in its seventh series, James has become a familiar face to Channel 4 watchers over the past four years.

Having left school at 15 – with a first job selling cleaning products door-to-door – Constantinou vowed never to work for someone again and built up a career in the property industry before taking over an old pawnbrokers to launch his own Prestige Pawn firm.

Since the last time we sat down with Constantinou has been expanding his business and branching Prestige Pawn into more British towns.

With an estimated worth now at around £5.2m, Constantinou has some worthwhile advice for other entrepreneurs. Here, he talks about what drives him to succeed and the one invention he wishes he came up with.

What’s new for your business?

We are expanding with a new store opening in Loughton, Essex. We have further growth plans over the next five years with plans for overseas operations, so full steam ahead over for the foreseeable future.

These are exciting times for Prestige, the banks are showing no sign of easing up on lending and the public are aware of what we have to offer in terms of the assets that may be suitable to secure against a loan. There is currently nobody else in this space.

What made you want to start your own business?

I’ve always been in business for myself, practically since I left school. I had an inability to follow command which made working for anyone else almost impossible.

I’ve obviously softened as I’ve aged but I like to be in control of my own destiny and that’s what drives me to run my own business. Prestige was a no brainer for me, I was at the right place at the right time with the right idea. Simple.

What numbers do you look at every day in your business?

I look at all the figures on a spreadsheet almost daily. Loans out, loans in , retail sales and purchases. I know it’s sad but I get excited by the numbers, especially when they are good numbers. 

How do you overcome any hurdles that life throws at you?

I don’t do hurdles. While everyone is working out how to jump them I go around them. Or try to…

What business venture do you wish you came up with?

I wish I had invented the wheel as it was a great idea and has become very popular!

What do you love to do in your spare time?

I like to try to switch off but it’s tough when you run your own business. Eating out, antique fairs, car shows, long walks and thinking of new ideas are among the things I love to do in my spare time. 

Three things you couldn’t live without?

Family, my phone and the ability to work.

Have you had to change business strategies?

We are always looking to sharpen our pencil in terms of what we do but we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. We know what we do works and we are constantly trying to keep ahead of the game.

Our TV show has made the public aware of what we have to offer and shows that we know what we are talking about. I wouldn’t say we need a new strategy just yet.

Who would you choose to be stuck on a desert island with?

My gorgeous fiancée.

What is your biggest business blunder?

Not doing what I do now 12 months earlier.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Be brave. You’ve got to be in it to win it. 

If you could witness any historical event, what would it be?

The fall of the Berlin wall.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and has previously worked as a content editor in local government and the ecommerce industry.

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