Boler gets out of the kitchen and into the desert

People & Business
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The Independent Online
One of the key winners in the flotation of Limelight kitchens and bathrooms was not even in the country when it was announced yesterday.

Stephen Boler, the company's 53-year-old co-founder, was in the Kalahari desert in southern Africa, working on his latest project.

Mr Boler, who will net around pounds 50m from the Limelight float, is likely to invest at least part of those funds in the development of a huge game reserve in the Kalahari.

At the moment, Mr Boler is supervising work on the final stages of the park's development. Work started two years ago and involved the introduction of 3,000 head of game and the construction of a game lodge to accommodate 20 to 25 people. The idea is that safaris will cover the operating costs of the park, though the capital is unlikely to be recovered.

Mr Boler, who also owns a 13 per cent stake in Manchester City football club, retains a house in Cheshire and spends half his time in the UK.

But he has clearly decided that the middle of the desert is the best place to be during Manchester City's continuing crisis.

Graham Lancaster, co-founder of the Biss Lancaster PR agency, has a new novel published by Hodder & Stoughton next week. Entitled "Grave Song", it is a thriller set against the theme of downsizing in a major corporation.

The protagonist is a senior secretary who knows all the company's darkest secrets. When she is made redundant in one of the company's cost-cutting measures she decides that rather than go quietly she will do her utmost to bring her old company to its knees. The plot lead into a dark web of computer viruses and a derivatives scam.

"It's an issue I feel strongly about and ought to be addressed," Mr Lancaster says.

"Major companies should think about it a lot more than they do. The book is meant to be an enjoyable read but with a serious issue at its heart. I've dedicated it to the downsized everywhere."

Iain Watters, the Falstaffian director at property group MEPC, is struggling to fill the pages of his charity foodie's book . The notion, you may recall, is to invite property bigwigs to submit their favourite meal for inclusion in the book but only if they stump up the required pounds 1,000. The money goes to Centrepoint, the charity for the homeless.

At the moment, however, the publication will be more of a pamphlet than a book as the property honchos are failing to come up with the readies.

Mr Watters wrote to more than 50 property chairmen and chief executives but has so far received positive responses from just seven. The hit list included the likes of Ron Spinney of Hammerson and John Ritblat of British Land. No doubt their cheques are in the post.

Graham Lawson, chief executive of Watts Blake Bearne, which produces clay for use in making lavatories and basins, is still smarting from a recent plumbing incident in the Ukraine.

On a recent visit to the former Soviet republic, he turned on the hot tap in his hotel room only to find a horrid, brown sludge emerging.

Judging by the reaction of the hotel staff to his complaint, this is perfectly normal.

"They asked me if the cold water was working OK, which it was. They then just shrugged their shoulders and said, `What are you complaining about?'"

Mr Lawson had entertained vague notions of finding some Ukranian customers for his clay. But the state of the local plumbing has made him think twice.

Sir Anthony Cleaver, the former IBM chief executive, is to become the chairman of management consultancy Strategic Partnership.

The consultancy helps businesses address the findings of the Royal Society of Arts's inquiry, called "Tomorrow's Company". Also joining the board is Patrick McHugh, who is vice president of management consultancy, AT Kearney.