Kingfisher chief swans to a Rolex

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The Independent Online
CONGRATULATIONS TO Sir Geoff Mulcahy, chief executive of Kingfisher, who has just done well in one of the world's poshest yacht races. When not worrying about the price of beans at Woolworths and if B&Q is shifting enough ceramic tiles, Sir Geoff is a keen sailor.

Last week he came third in the Swan World Championships in Sardinia, run out of Porto Cervo, a millionaire's playground developed by the Aga Khan, where "its a lot easier to buy a fur coat than a pint of milk", according to a regular.

Having steered one of his two very expensive yachts, "Noonmark VI" into contention last week, Sir Geoff's winnings included a Rolex watch. Not that a man who regularly earns pounds 1m a year will be desperate for a new timepiece.

City observers know Sir Geoff well as a paper-clip chewer and as the man who once installed his own central heating. It is not so well known that in the last two or three years he has begun to take sailing "very seriously indeed", according to a colleague. In the early `90s during the Dixons bid he christened one of his boats "No Comment" in a wry reaction to constant questioning from reporters. In 1992 he toyed with the idea of committing Kingfisher to sponsor Britain's entry to the America's Cup in 1992.

Earlier this year Sir Geoff narrowly missed winning a car at Cork Week, a race meeting held every two years in the Irish port. Ford sponsors the meeting (known by locals as "Ford Week") and quietly launched two new global models there recently, the Cougar and Falcon.

The entrepreneurial Sir Geoff even charters some of his yachts out when he's not racing them himself. Knowing him, he probably makes a profit on that as well.

CONGRATULATIONS also to Joe Dwek, who has retired as chairman of BodyCote, the metal processing group, after 26 years in office. Mr Dwek was heading this remarkably successful company just as Britain was readying itself for the oil crisis, the secondary banking crisis, the miners' strike and the three-day week. Current events in Russian will probably leave Mr Dwek unimpressed.

He said yesterday: "I will take with me some very happy memories of exciting times and, as ever, I will be wishing the group continued success".

TOBY THORRINGTON has left Panmure Gordon's smaller companies research team to join ABN AMRO next Monday, rounding off a year or so of defections from that desk.

Patrick Orr left Panmure's smaller companies operation to join rival stockbrokers Raphael Zorn Hemsley. Sara Wigglesworth, who joined Panmure in 1991 from Credit Lyonnais, just left the City to spend more time with her family. And Charlie Campbell went to Warburg Dillon Read last October.

Not to worry. A Panmure source says that three high-profile replacements are "on their way". Watch this space.

JULIA CHAIN, who stood down as managing partner of law firm Garretts in July, has resurfaced as general counsel for One 2 One, the telecoms joint venture between Cable &Wireless and US West.

Garretts has had an unhappy time of late. It was built up by its parent, the giant accountancy firm Andersen Worldwide, only to be thrown into turmoil when Andersen decided to open merger talks with City law firm Wilde Sapte.

The proposed link with Wilde Sapte put a huge question mark over Ms Chain and her colleagues. In the event the merger talks fell apart in June. Now the frustrated accountants appear to be mounting a shake-up at Garretts, despite the fact that the firm lies just outside the UK's top 20 in fee income.

To add insult to injury, Andersen have imposed an accountant to run Garretts. Peter Ridley was officially appointed managing director last autumn, but his role expanded on Ms Chain's departure.

How all this will help to attract high flying lawyers to Garretts remains to be seen.

HOW NICE it must be to be Remi Krug, heir to the French Champagne house. The members of the French luxury association, Comite Colbert, have just elected Mr Krug as its new chairman. The committee is made up of 75 of the top luxury companies and vigorously campaigns to protect them with the message: "Centering on emotions and sensations generated by all creations constituting French Art de Vivre ... in a major exhibition Theatre des Sens in Paris." Makes a change to the Car Show at the NEC!

JIM MERCER, chief executive of British Vita, the Manchester based plastics manufacturer whose two year old pounds 66 million bid for rival plastics maker Doeflex finally came to fruition yesterday, said it was "only the second biggest bid in Manchester at the moment."

With is tongue firmly in his cheek, Mr Mercer says his bid is the best for Mancunians (as opposed to some other chap's bid for a certain footy team) but as a keen supporter of Bolton Wanderers he isn't quite as emotionally involved as most of the city's inhabitants.

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