Column Eight: Fight's off - replace jackets

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The Independent Online
Has UBS Phillips & Drew lost the stomach to fight? It has withdrawn the writ issued in a blaze of publicity against Random House, publisher of Terry Smith's Accounting for Growth. Random - whose costs are being paid - is apparently being rewarded for its co-operation over removing P&D's name from the book's dustjacket. Terry Smith, however, remains the subject of litigation.

As if the building industry isn't sufficiently beleaguered, Travis Perkins now finds itself in battle with the Romans. In cost-cutting mood it earmarked a branch in Leicester for closure, hoping it might realise some profits by selling the premises. But then, in charitable mood, the firm agreed to sponsor - to the tune of pounds 5,000 - an exploratory dig for items of historic interest in the foundations.

Unfortunately the dig uncovered a well and some shards. The upshot? A full archaeological excavation and considerable delay in the sale.

Michael Starks, the man in charge of the BBC's 'radical resource management change' - the Producer Choice strategy - told the CBI yesterday it will involve a 'smaller corporate centre'.

'The effect will be to reduce overheads, administrators and tiers of management; to highlight and squeeze out under- utilised facilities; to accelerate a rationalisation of property holdings.'

So it seems he is actually in charge of handing out P45s.

As Ford cuts production and Mercedes smiles bravely through the Princess of Wales's roadster-dumping, Skoda is positively flourishing with sales up by nearly a quarter. Knowing that the poor Princess is having to tighten her belt, Skoda thinks she should reconsider her decision to withdraw from non-British cars and a) think European and b) splash out around pounds 5,000 for a racy Czech model.

'They are very reliable, useful cars and do very well at rallies (??) as well as being value for money,' says a spokesman.

After months of digesting improved cuisine at Chartered Accountants' Hall, the ultra-cautious number-crunchers felt it was safe to open the restaurant run by Prue Leith. So enter yesterday Sir Brian Jenkins, chartered accountant and Lord Mayor of London, for the official blessing. The prices are recession-tailored - pounds 16.50 for two luscious courses, pounds 19.50 for three.

(And 'Zander', for future patrons baffled by the starter, is a 'common European species of pike-perch'. . .)