City Diary

Click to follow
The Independent Online
A SLIM tome slips delicately on to the City diary's desk. And lo, if it is not a biography of whisky legend Raymond Miquel. Who is he, you might ask? Mr Miquel is the former head of Arthur Bell & Sons, the scotch whisky company that succumbed to a takeover from Guinness, which preceded the stout group's bitter battle for distillers.

"Business as usual: the Miquel Way" is a tale of how the great man made Bell's a household name before a brief spell at Bellhaven Brewery. Now 68, he is running Lees of Scotland, a Scottish confectionery company.

A thousand copies of the book have been printed by an organisation called The Memoir Club and it appears that Mr Miquel paid at least some of the costs of its production. Vanity publishing, then? "He paid something, though not the whole cost," a spokeswoman says.

Still, the book gets the thumbs-up from Lord Spens, Mr Miquel's former merchant banker, who has already read it from cover to cover. "I think it captures the man very well," the former Morgan Grenfell man says. "The passage where it shows Miquel completing a 2,000 metres steeplechase in Gateshead, in spite of falling and breaking his arm in several places, shows just how competitive he is."

The book also features Mr Miquel challenging Ray Reardon at snooker and racing Olympic athlete Alan Pascoe over 2,400 metres.

Lord Spens recalls his first meeting with Mr Miquel at Bell's in 1969. He had been dispatched to Scotland from London to look at Bell's as a possible flotation.

He was speaking to the company secretary when, not seeing Mr Miquel in the room, he said: "The trouble with Bell's is that it is a one-product company."

Lord Spens says: "He was furious and wrote to the London office saying 'either this man apologises or he must go'." Lord Spens duly swallowed his pride and backed down.

TERRY LEAHY, chief executive of Tesco, was in good form at last week's Management Today awards for Britain's most admired companies. This was no surprise, of course, given that Tesco picked up more gongs (three) during the evening than anyone else.

Mr Leahy was such a regular visitor to the podium that it prompted host Myra Even of The Money Programme to joke that there was "a moving van round the back to help Terry carry off his winnings".

Tesco's win made it Britain's most admired company for two years in a row. This appeared to make the supermarket chief slightly nervous. "Last year's win was followed by the worst retail recession in 20 years. I'm sure the two events were not related," he joked.

Just for the record, the least admired company was Alldays, the incredibly shrinking convenience store retailer, which recorded the lowest score in the history of the awards. ICI was the biggest faller slumping from 44th place last year to 224th.

Sir John Browne of BP Amoco won the new award of most admired chief executive, beating three other shortlisted candidates - Richard Branson of Virgin: Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy, Kingfisher; and Lloyds TSB chief Sir Brian Pitman.

YOU CAN lead a horse to water but can you get it to drink? Not if you are British Aerospace, or BAE SYSTEMS as it would desperately like to be known. All those corporate consultancy fees paid to Lambie Nairn look like being money down the drain, along with its much vaunted "wordmark" (er, name, in case you were wondering) and its "property" (what used to be known as a logo). A quick scan of the press shows a healthy divergence when it comes to reporting on the new identity. For The Independent and the Telegraph, the new company is Baesystems while The Times and the FT have settled for BAe Systems. As for the Guardian and Wall Street Journal, they have plumped for BAE Systems.

"All very annoying," says a spokesman. "We obviously have more work to do on this."

NIGHT-CLUB bouncers have been given their own British Standard tomorrow, just in time for the Christmas and millennium entertainment season. The British Standard "muscle code" applies to the 100,000 "beefcakes" who man the doors at Britain's night clubs, pubs and other entertainment venues.

Produced by the British Standards Institution, BS 7960:1999 gives comprehensive guidance on their selection, screening and training. It includes guidance on the importance of customer care and social skills, including the use of body language to defuse potentially violent situations.

The standard will be launched at Home, London's latest superclub, which opened in September in Leicester Square. And if your name's not on the list, you're not coming in. "If that's alright with you. Sir."