Column Eight: Gone but not forgotten

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The Independent Online
SHAREHOLDERS of Wickes, the builders' merchant chain, have not seen a dividend for more than two years. Wickes, which went on a disastrous buying spree in 1988, is still too highly borrowed to fork out just now, they have been told.

They may be interested to learn that Dick Clark, the former managing director who quit last October, has been given a pounds 540,000 leaving present on top of his normal pension. What's more, Wickes is now paying pounds 198,000 to Retail Development International, a consultancy subsequently set up by Mr Clark. The fee is for RDI to investigate opportunities in Europe.

Wouldn't it have been cheaper to keep Mr Clark on the payroll? Harry Sweetbaum, the chairman - himself on the receiving end of a 55 per cent pay rise to pounds 379,000 last year - declines to explain: 'I don't think it's any of your business, to be perfectly honest.'

ERNST & YOUNG is cutting down on office space by getting its staff to share desks, according to an intriguing article in the Valuer magazine. By a process called 'hot- desking', staff who spend most of their time on assignment no longer have their own desks. Instead they share one pooled desk between three.

What happens to personal effects like photos of loved ones and treasured personalised paperweights, one wonders? I rang John McCorquodale, the E&Y boffin masterminding the economy drive, to find out. 'I'm sorry, he's not at his, er, desk right now,' says the secretary.

NO SOONER had we received Glaxo's original announcement yesterday about its knuckle-rapping from the US Food and Drug Administration than an amendment is faxed through. 'Please destroy the earlier version,' instruct the men in white coats solemnly, 'with 'patients' being substituted for 'physicians' in paragraph 4.'

TEACHERS may be facing a 0.5 per cent pay rise this year. But their pupils are doing rather better, getting an inflation-busting 8 per cent increase to pounds 4.15 a week, according to a Gallup survey for Wall's. The sums include pocket money - up 3 per cent to pounds 1.87 - plus earnings from part-time jobs and cash gifts from friends and relatives.

All age groups got wealthier except 11-13 year olds: with incomes down by 6 per cent to pounds 4.04, they saw their differentials dangerously eroded vis-a- vis toddlers.