Gem trade can't hold a candle to waxing lyrical

People & Business

Iain McGourty, managing director of Ernest Jones, Signet's more upmarket jewellery chain, is quitting to run Wax Lyrical, a fast growing group of candle shops.

Mr McGourty is leading a management buy-in of Wax Lyrical and will leave Signet in the new year to become managing director. He is acquiring 10 per cent of the shares while founders Marjorie Bannister and Mark Chessel will retain a 70 per cent stake.

Founded in 1990 Wax Lyrical now has 32 shops and last year made pounds 1m profits on sales of pounds 11m. But Mr McGourty reckons he can double the size of the business.

He admits he scarcely knows his beeswax from his candelabra but is not afraid to learn. "I'll be starting my learning curve immediately."

Mr McGourty, 49, has been keen to run his own show for some time. A former managing director of Country Casuals and Signet's Salisbury's luggage chain he put together a management buyout team team to buy Salisbury's last year but was beaten to it by Stephen Hinchliffe. "I've always wanted to be involved in an equity transaction and I feel Wax Lyrical is very much a retailer for the Nineties."

Ken Clarke 1: Is the strain of the single currency debate and all those off-the-record lunches starting to tell on our Chancellor? It is if a remark made to his press secretary on Monday is anything to go by.

"I've had enough of journalists," he said to Jill Rutter, the chief press secretary to the Treasury. "I don't want to see any any more."

Unfortunately for Mr Clarke, Ms Rutter had to inform him that he was due to attend a Treasury press reception that very evening where literally hundreds of hacks were due to invade his personal space.

Perhaps a glass or two of wine helped but the Chancellor managed to disguise his feelings about his guests and, I am told, was in rather good spirits all evening. He was one of the last to leave.

Ken Clarke 2: Has canny Ken done a Tony Blair and started to alter his hairstyle? It's ever so subtle but economics observers who usually concentrate on the PSBR and long-term interest rates say there are definite signs of a make-over in the Barnet department.

This sparked flat denials from the Treasury, aghast that a man who resolutely sticks to wearing Hush Puppies with pin-striped suits, should be accused of such vanity. "He is not interested in altering his personal appearance. He's never felt the need to do that. It was probably just a case of a little too long between haircuts."

Neville Buch, the former chairman of Blenheim Exhibitions who made pounds 24m from the group's sale to United News & Media a couple of months back, has wasted no time returning to the fray. He has been appointed non-executive director of BBB Design Group, which has a USM quote. He will move up to non-executive chairman in February when founder Philip O'Donnell splits the chairman and chief executive roles.

Mr Buch yesterday acquired a near-6 per cent stake in BBB and will push that to nearly 30 per cent next week when he buys shares from Mr O'Donnell.

The pair know each other well. Blenheim and BBB were almost merged eight years ago and Mr Buch's Holland Park pad is around the corner from BBB's Bayswater head office.

"I've known Neville ever since I took BBB public 10 years ago. He's been very successful and I'm sure his talents will help us."

Dairy group Unigate will receive some political assistance. It has appointed John MacGregor, the former secretary of state for transport, as a non- executive director.

However, it is Mr MacGregor's previous position as minister for agriculture, fisheries and foods which is likely to prove more useful. Unigate's chief executive Ross Buckland has been banging on about Milk Marque's pricing policies for ages. Mr MacGregor's lobbying skills will no doubt come in handy.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there