Column One: Layers of meaning

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The Independent Online
EUPHEMISM of the Week (1): As the recession wears on and on and on, company directors have knotted themselves into hernias thinking up original ways to impart unwelcome news. Revelations of job losses, in particular, often cause visible wincing and strenuous verbal ingenuity on the part of board members.

Such observations as: 'We've slimmed down to the tune of 150 people' and 'Er, we think you'll find us a much leaner and fitter organisation,' are popular. But Peter Harrisson, group managing director at Linread, the Birmingham-based widget and fastenings manufacturer, baffled his audience yesterday with this wholly new description: 'Fifty people have been delayered.' De-what?

THE SPLENDIFEROUSLY named Sir David Money-Coutts is stepping down after 17 years as non-executive chairman of the family sweetshop, Coutts & Co. Our Ex- Man in Paris, Sir Ewen Fergusson, will take over at the end of September. Fear not, for Sir David is not the last of the Coutts at the 300-year-old bank. His cousin is beavering away in the international banking department and, as a spokesman points out, it's not the first time the chairman has not been from the Coutts family 'and I would hesitate to say it will be the last'.

EUPHEMISM of the Week (2): Dennis Kerrison, the recently appointed chief executive of Hickson International, is fairly disdainful of the chemical group's performance under the management that led it through its 1980s spending spree. 'Hickson of old was turning into a mini-conglomerate - buying businesses and not managing them,' he declared.

When it came to the personalities, he was more restrained, delicately describing as 'idiosyncratic' his predecessor, John Marvin. Mr Kerrison also reminded us that he was brought into the company by Mr Marvin. It appears that he wouldn't want us to think that all Mr Marvin's policies were, ah, 'idiosyncratic'.

A TIMBER business and a tea business were probably the most decently sized of several disposals made this year by Inchcape, the trading and motor conglomerate. But it was the sale of some Australian vineyards that apparently provoked the fullest and frankest boardroom discussion - the vineyards habitually churned out an impressive volume of both red and white wine, and a goodly number of bottles used to find their way to Inchcape's King Street offices . . .

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