City People

Click to follow
BRITISH EUROPHILES received a bit of a kicking in last week's European elections, but one supporter of the single currency who's losing no sleep over the result is Chris Huhne, who scraped home under the Liberal Democrat slate as one of our new Euro MPs. A former business editor of this newspaper, Mr Huhne is hoping to serve on the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee.

As a fanatical Europhile he shrugs off his pro-Euro party's relatively poor showing in the elections and claims that William Hague, the Conservative party leader, has set the Tories on a self-destructive collision course with Europe. But he admits the strong anti-Euro vote is a wake-up call to all pro-Europeans to start actively campaigning on the advantages of the euro. He is also optimistic about the stability of the existing Euro- block, claiming that Ireland - whose current boom is considered most at risk - is standing up well to the strains of a single European monetary policy.

Mr Huhne plans to keep his home in London and look for a pied-a-terre in Brussels, but his job as group managing director of Fitch IBCA, the banking credit rating agency, will be filled by his deputy Lionel Price, the former head of central banking studies at the Bank of England.

IS VAUXHALL losing its touch? The US carmaker known for coming up with winning brand names such as Vectra and Tigra has called its new people- carrier Zafira, after the Spanish wind, the Zephir. That's all very well but Nissan already has a car which goes like the wind - the Cefiro, a saloon that has long been on sale in Japan.

VINCENT WOODHALL, now involved in his 36th case against his former employers, believes he has finally struck gold this week with the admission in the High Court - the first time a case has come so far - that Ikon Office Solutions does sell "remanufactured", ie secondhand, photocopiers as new.

Mr Woodhall, originally employed by Southern Business Group, which was bought out by the US giant Ikon in 1995, left in 1992 to set up his own consultancy specifically to assist companies unhappy with Southern's five-year photocopying contracts.

For the past seven years he has been a constant thorn in the side of first Southern and then Ikon, pointing out to scores of clients that they should not be bound by their rental agreements when their photocopiers break down owing to old age only three years into their five year contract. With the average copier renting for pounds 400 a month and Mr Woodhall achieving a success rate of 20 contract cancellations a year, that's a sizeable figure.

And the clients, which include Dagenham Motors and Trusthouse Forte, aren't small fry either. But isn't he worried that too much success could put him out of business? With Ikon responsible for renting out 70,000 copiers in the UK, he feels he'll continue to make a good living for a while yet.

OH DEAR, if only the Department of Trade and Industry practised what it preaches, at least in terms of good business practices. The target the department sets for dealing with invoices is two weeks, but the experience of a number of self-employed professionals lucky enough to get commissions from the government shows the reality is nearer two months. Even worse, work can't be sent over electronically because the DTI scrambles emails, apparently for "historical reasons of security". Hardly the example to set small businesses.

A LITTLE BICK of confusion over brothers Bick at Holborn PR and rival John Beck at Bell Pottinger, all brought together under one stock exchange announcement - the statement detailing Wal-Mart's takeover of Asda. The Bicks - David and John - are handling PR for the notoriously hard-to- access US retail giant while John Beck is in charge of the smooth running of Asda's media relations. So now you know.

IT'S LONELY at the top, frenetic and sometimes bewildering. Yet the chief executive needs someone to confide in for moments of reflection and personal development, says the press release advertising a new business club for high flyers.

The club, APM, is based on the French equivalent, the Association Progres du Management, which has 120 branches. But despite the languorous tone of the statement, the club is not just for relaxing. For an annual fee of pounds 2,000, members can attend lunches followed by high-powered discussion led by a top speaker. Recent speakers include John Diamond on the power of the media and Professor Joe Nellis on the world economy. UK director Bill Halson says: "The idea is to laugh and learn like the French philosophers."

Comments