CITY DIARY

Stephen Hinchliffe, the Sheffield-based entrepreneur, has been on the acquisitions trail again with the purchase ofMayfair Trunks, a luggage retailer, from Charles Letts, the diary people. The company, which is based conveniently close to Buckingham Palace, has a warrant from the monarch and her mother.

Michael Grade, the cigar-chomping chief executive of Channel 4 who has been campaigning for a cut in the levy on his business,says the Panorama interview with John Major that the BBC screened days before the local elections in Scotland was a "mistake" for which the BBC ought to apologise.

"Whether one likes the rules or not, the BBC had a responsibility to be aware of its statutory duty to provide balanced coverage. As the interview was pre-recorded, they knew precisely what the Prime Minister would say. It would have been a simple matter to delay it," he says.

For anyone using the Easter break to set in motion plans to leave the rat race and set up business independently, there is a cautionary tale from Richard Greensted. The author has written a book called Go It Alone, published next month by Macmillan, which discusses the pitfalls, risks and trauma of running one's own business. Greensted should know. His own communications companyfailed to meet expectations and now he confesses that money is so tight there are times he wakes up to find not enough toothpaste in the tube.

The launch of the Centre and Inner London Training and Enterprise Council - a prosaic event you might think - is set to attract a surprising number of stars. A promotional video includes Ian Wright, Linford Christie and Fatima Whitbread. Stars appearing on the day include Saracen and Nightshades of TV's Gladiator fame. Could this line-up have anything to do with the list of City luminaries who have been enlisted on to the managing board? The chairman is Hugh Aldous, the managing partner of Robson Rhodes, who investigated Lord Archer's Anglia share dealings for the DTI. Others include George Alford, the managing director of Kleinwort Benson private bank, Ian Beament, a director of London Electricity, and Ed Sweeney, deputy general secretary of the banking union Bifu.

If Britain was a brand it would be stuffy, old-fashioned and out of date. That is the conclusion of BMP DDB Needham, the advertising agency, after it interviewed foreigners from all round the world. Other adjectives used included proud, civilised, cultured, arrogant and cold. These findings have upset a society of Britain's top companies. The Walpole Committee is a self-selecting lobby of smart businesses that includes Coutts, Holland & Holland, the Savoy and British Airways. Next month the committee will be hosting a seminar entitled "Does British brand identity rely too much on tradition?" The key speaker will be Dr Jim Maxmin, the American entrepreneur whose ambitious expansion plans found little favour at Laura Ashley.

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