Courtaulds chief turns his back on the wonder fabric

People & Business
Courtaulds chief executive Gordon Campbell was in his usual relaxed mood yesterday, but not sufficiently relaxed to follow the latest fashion to dress down. He told City scribes: "I thought I should apologise for wearing a suit this morning and not following the trend to casual clothing. I ought to have pitched up in a T-shirt and jeans."

The faux pas was made worse by the fact that Tencel, Courtaulds' new wonder fabric, made a splash in Japan as a replacement for denim. Mr Campbell revealed that Tencel sales have moved beyond Japan and are now strongest in Europe, where customers like something "innovative and unique". So now you know.

Manchester's tram and rail network, Altram, has got a new chairman - the former chief executive of Manchester Airport, Sir Gilbert Thompson.

Now that's what I call good timing. Just as the airport people are trying to unearth folk hero Swampy from his tunnel below the proposed site for the new runway, Sir Gilbert is taking over a tram system that is the epitome of environmental friendliness.

Altram is made up of John Laing, Ansaldo Trasporti, Serco and the 3i Group, which is to build and operate Manchester's Metrolink extension to Salford Keys and Eccles by 2000. This will extend the city centre tram system which has proved such a hit with the public.

So Swampy can do his worst - Sir Gilbert is riding high.

The "world's richest man", Bill Gates, head of Microsoft, was addressing a conference this week held by NCR, the cashpoint company, in New York. The great man, who is estimated to be worth around $32bn (or something like that) was chatting to the audience, and to illustrate the uses of a new programme, used his card to get some money out of an NCR atm on stage.

In fact it was NCR pretend money. Seeing this, our Bill declared: "Ah well, I guess I've got enough money in any case," to much sycophantic laughter.

Roger Luard of FlexTech might have bitten off more than he can chew this time. FlexTech's cable TV company, UK Living, has just started a cheeky nationwide poster campaign using the slogan: "Wouldn't it be great if Kate Moss was fat?"

Here the waif-like model's lawyer, Gerrard Tyrell of Harbottle & Lewis, takes up the story: "A couple of weeks ago GGT, UK Living's advertising agency, approached Kate Moss to ask if her name could be used in the ads. She said no, simply because she already has a number of exclusive advertising agreements.

"Then last Friday all these posters went up, and we started getting lots of calls from journalists about it. We've written to UK Living asking for an explanation."

One suspects that, whatever the outcome of Mr Tyrell's enquiries, UK Living will have got its publicity. Pass the cream cakes.

They're a pedantic lot at the Epsom RAC Club. Robert Fenner of City law firm Fenners enjoys spending Sundays at the club, playing tennis and golf and taking tea with his wife.

Recently however, he found that the service in the club was a bit slow and thought they needed more staff, so he said so in the suggestions book.

The RAC Club then wrote to him saying this was a complaint and not a suggestion, and was therefore inappropriate for the suggestions book.

This floored Mr Fenner. Apparently he should have complained to the duty manager at the time. On the other hand he doesn't want me to make too much of this: "I don't want to lose my membership, after all."

One usually thinks of rugby players as a pretty basic lot, but the coach for the British Lions tour to South Africa thinks differently.

Ian McGeechan sent the squad off to an empowerment course last week before they jetted off to the veldt. You know. All that stuff about building bridges with planks. It will be interesting to see whether the course, provided by Impact Development Training Group of Windermere, Cumbria, will empower the players to beat the mighty Springboks.

As we reveal the latest in the Formula One saga (page 23), news has emerged of another spat involving Bernie Ecclestone, the sport's enigmatic power broker. Bowled over by the success of his new Grand Prix team, Jackie Stewart, former world champion, asked Mr Ecclestone to renegotiate a better slice of television rights. The door, we understand, was firmly closed in his face.

When Mr Stewart arrived for the Monaco Grand Prix he found no space for his motorhome in the team compound and was allocated an inconvenient space away from the other teams near the Royal Palace. When Mr Stewart complained to Mr Ecclestone, back came the response: "You always said you wanted to be near the Royals, so now's your chance."