Hugs, kisses, goats and eruptions, but no spam

City Diary
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The Independent Online
As you tuck into your prawn cocktail sandwich this lunchtime, the "Most Innovative Sandwich of the Year Award" will be being judged at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London. This is the fifth year of the awards, which are sponsored by the British Sandwich Association, the representative of a pounds 3bn-and-growing industry. Among the tasty morsels on offer: "Hugs & Kisses, made with peaches and passionfruit on chocolate bread, with a single Rolo chocolate; Vesuvius (an eruption of flavour!) made with focaccia bread and gorgonzola cheese, with a filling of goat's cheese, spinach and tomato sauce; and the Eurosandwich, a concoction of German (Bockwurst sausage and German mustard), Greek (houmous, olives and avocado) and French (rillettes du Mains and melee of salad leaves)." More than 320 people will attend a dinner tonight hosted by comedian Tom O'Connor at which this and other sandwich-related awards will be made. Easy on the mayo.

The Lancashire weaving village of Calder Vale, just north of Preston, is home to a 77-year old company whose entire production consists of the red and white cotton head shawls worn only in Saudi Arabia. Yesterday the company, Lappet Manufacturing, was sold by Courtaulds Textiles to a group of anonymous Middle Eastern investors for pounds 17m. Bob Quick, Lappet's chief executive, commented: "Courtaulds bought us in 1968 and have now decided that we are a non-core business. Making the shawls involves quite a specialised, old-fashioned method. Our business has grown with the Saudi economy." A nice position to be in, I'm sure.

Since being a basket case five years ago Next has become a rip-roaring success story with remorseless growth in profits. The chain store group's chief executive, David Jones, who possesses all the charisma to be expected from a chartered accountant, told a charming story yesterday at the results press briefing. His young daughter had asked him the night before what he would be saying the next day, and he duly referred to ballooning profits, soaring sales and the like. "Same boring stuff then, Daddy," she commented. Out of the mouths of babes...

BZW has pinched a four-man equity derivatives team from HSBC Midland to cover the UK life insurance sector in structured products for the retail market. Led by Giles Rothwell, aged a mere 33, the team comprises Desmond Byrne, Paul Coleman and Richard Ager - who's only 28. Shouldn't these people still be in school? Elsewhere in the Barclays empire yesterday, BZW Barclays Global Investors, the world's largest manager of tracker funds, lured Kevin McNulty from Prudential Portfolio Managers to be its first securities lending manager.

Mr McNulty will have plenty to lend - the company has pounds 154bn in assets under management.

Cat-owners can now take out cover for their beloved kitty under the new "Paxman Plan" from Pet Plan, the pet health insurance company. As its name suggests, the plan is a response to comments on cats by Jeremy Paxman, the noted TV broadcaster, in the Evening Standard on Tuesday: "I hate them," the paper reported. "I want to organise a meet on Shepherd's Bush Green every Saturday. We'll blow horns, wear bright blue anoraks and race all over west London. Then we'll tear them limb from limb." Cripes. Anyhow, for an extra pounds 1 on the premium, Pet Plan's Paxman cover will pay out should the TV man slaughter your cat.

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