Bunhill: Balls to Sir Richard

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The Independent Online
CONGRATULATIONS to Sir Richard Greenbury, chairman of Marks & Spencer, who last week collected the NatWest Securities Retailer of the Year Award, together with a prize of tennis balls. Sir Richard is a keen tennis player. I understand his reaction was better than Henry V's, who of course interpreted a similar gift from the Dauphin as a deadly insult and promptly invaded France.

The pugnacious Sir Richard, who incidentally would have been the ideal companion at Agincourt, gained almost one-third of the votes cast by a panel of retailers, analysts and fund managers. He beat David Jones of Next and Sir Geoff Mulcahy of Kingfisher into second and third places.

NatWest advised him to use the balls as ammunition against recalcitrant reporters and analysts at the next M&S results presentation.

The award is in danger of gathering the same reputation as the Guardian Young Businessman of the Year, whose winners have had a nasty habit of going bust or being sacked soon after. Previous retailers of the year include Sir Ralph Halpern (1985), Gerald Ratner (1986) and George Davies (1987).