Bunhill: Rank legend

Click to follow
AS THE long-serving chairman of the Rank Organisation, once the biggest company in the UK film industry, Sir John Davis, who died last week, did more than any other single person to bring the whole business to its knees. He was just as ruthless, just as charming, just as sex- mad as any of his Hollywood equivalents, but he had none of their instinctive understanding of popular needs.

But all business school students ought to study Davis's career. He remained in power and acquired a reputation as a successful businessman solely as the man who took the world rights outside the US to the first plain-paper copier, the apparently absurd idea of a small company then known as Haloid but now world-famous as Xerox.

But the fundamental lesson from the story lies in why Davis took on the Haloid licence - because one of Rank's factories had spare capacity. And that sort of reasoning is a no-no in business school language.