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Bunhill: Carr's track record

THINGS don't seemed to have improved much at Amber Day since the inimitable Philip Green - colourful by name, colourful by nature - quit with a pounds 1.1m pay-off. He was succeeded by Stacey Ellis, whose departure after eight months is likely to cost shareholders another pounds 500,000.

The new chairman, Peter Carr, has not come under much scrutiny since his appointment in August. However, I'm intrigued by the Amber Day version of his career, which applauds his stewardship of the Spanish department store chain Galerias Preciados. 'During a three-year period until September 1991, he was responsible for a dramatic improvement in profitability,' it says.

That doesn't quite square with the view of the receivers at KPMG Peat Marwick, whose job it was to pick up the pieces at Mountleigh, the property group that owned Galerias before going so spectacularly bust.

The KPMG version is that pre-tax profits at Galerias plunged by two-thirds to Ptas1.2bn ( pounds 6.1m) in the year to 30 April 1991. And in Carr's final financial year at the helm, the group collapsed to losses of Ptas4.3bn. Carr (who never seems able to return my telephone calls) is defended by the new Amber Day finance director, Keith Paskins. He says Carr did a terrific job at Galerias, which 'hadn't made a profit in donkey's years'. But then Paskins may not be entirely objective. He has worked alongside Carr at Debenhams, at Harris Queensway, at Galerias, and now at Amber Day.

Sir Phil Harris, the carpets magnate, who sacked Carr in 1987, just two months after promoting him to joint chief executive, was no fan, saying at the time: 'Mr Carr was a very good talker with very good ideas but he did not always follow them through.'

Paskins, staunch to the last, riposts hotly: 'Philip liked to involve himself in day-to-day trivia and wouldn't let the management get on with the job.'

(Photograph omitted)