English cricket awaits Tesco man

City Diary
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The Independent Online
The long nightmare of English cricket may be turning into a bright new dawn if Sir Ian MacLaurin, chairman of Tesco, has anything to do with it. Sir Ian is due to retire from the helm in June next year when he reaches 60, and being a fit, permanently tanned chap it is unsurprising that he is already mapping out new things to do. While he has had "loads of approaches" from other businesses, he wants to apply his experience to the world of politics and the world of cricket. As far as politics is concerned, Sir Ian, who joined Tesco as a management trainee in 1959, has no ambition to become an MP. He would like however to apply his considerable skills to raising money for the Conservative Party. His other great ambition is to revive England's national game. He is already a member of the MMC and the Lords Taverners. So move over Illingworth, MacLaurin's coming.

Good to see that Great British traditions of service are being maintained at Next. Its High Holborn branch in central London has a sign for opening times over the Easter period which says: "Good Friday - closed. Easter Sunday - closed. Easter Monday - closed. We look forward to seeing you." Not at Easter, obviously.

How fitting that the horse drawn in the office sweepstake for the Grand National by Mike Grant, treasurer of Eurotunnel, was called "Into the Red". The horse, rated three-to-one, did manage to finish, but not in the money. Rather like Eurotunnel.

Mick Hucknall, the carrot-haired lead singer of mega-popular Simply Red, has placed an order for the new MGF 1.8i VVC, a nifty new convertible sports car from Rover which harks back to the classic British MG. The car company made most of the fact yesterday, sending us a pic of the star with the car. The accompanying blurb trills: "The portfolio of songs produced by Simply Red identify a spirit similar to those of the MGF: Fairground, Remembering the First Time, Stars, ... etc." No mention of the car's price though, which suggests another the group's hits: "Money's Too Tight to Mention."

Cable & Wireless middle managers can breathe a sigh of relief. Despite all the hullabaloo about the talks with BT, the managers' two weeks jamboree, sorry, training programme, in the charming surrounds of Fontainbleu will go ahead after Easter as planned. C&W also confirmed yesterday that Mercury's twice yearly management knees-up in Birmingham today and tomorrow is similarly unaffected. BT-style cost-cutting is still some way off, thank goodness.

Jonathan Fry, chief executive of Burmah Castrol, delighted a mixed group of journalists yesterday when talking about a joint venture in Turkey: "This is a good thing, as Turkey seems to be getting its act together - and will do even more so when it gets a man for a prime minister." This statement was met with a stunned silence. Mr Fry added: "You'd better strike that from the record." Too late.

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