Made in Leicester, the best aristocratic socks

City Diary

Pex, the Leicester-based manufacturer of children's socks, has produced an annual report with a difference. Pride of place on the front page is a colour reproduction of a young boy, "Filippo Cattaneo," painted in 1623 by Anthony Van Dick.

Filippo is an ancestor of Andrea Cattaneo Della Volta, the Marquess of Belforte - who bought Pex four months ago. Since then the charming Genoan nobleman has put in a new management team, returned the company to the black and invested pounds 1.2m in new machinery.

The Marquess must be one of the most distinguished people involved in the East Midlands clothing trade- his forebears founded the city of Genoa in 962. He still owns vineyards there, but most of his business is conducted through Uniwear, a Belgian flax-spinning company. Now the Marquess has set up house in London and spends three days a week in Leicester. He is also on the acquisition trail - a pounds 2.5m knitting technology company would suit fine.

Mike Smith, the doyen of trading-company analysts at Williams de Broe, is about to turn his back on the City and return to the world of Academe. Mr Smith is off to study history at Manchester College, Oxford, and is hosting a farewell bash next Thursday.

Mr Smith is probably the world's greatest expert on Inchcape and other traders, and has spent most of his career at Robert Fleming. Given that he has been enjoying a City salary, his colleagues want to know one thing: Is he getting a grant?

Happy Birthday, AIM. Just one point. The London Stock Exchange has sent out a highly informative press pack on the fledgling successor to the USM, with a white label pasted on the cover. Dimly visible through the label is a list of four names underneath, from whom "further information can be obtained". They all left months ago. A bit slapdash, that. Hopefully not a pointer to AIM's future.

Smith & Williamson are amongst the most superior of medium-sized accountancy firms, what with their wealthy private client list, investment banking operations and London offices just off the BBC building in Portland Place. How natural, then, for them to host a private viewing of the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy, followed by dinner at the RAC club.

Sadly, decorum succumbed to Euro 96 mania, due to a television in an adjoining room at the RAC which was showing the England-Netherlands match. The noise level rose with each of England's goals, with portly City figures at one point chanting "four-nil, four-nil". The master of ceremonies had a hard time persuading the mob to take their places for dinner, and was forced to promise to announce any further goals. They had no sooner started tucking into "spiced pear" than news came through of the late Dutch goal, and Scotland's exit from the tournament. Undeterred, a merry time was had by all, until it came time to find taxis home.

Sadly, London's taxi driving population had obviously gone home to watch the match, and many of the senior bean counters had to be content with the night bus.

Airtours' attempt to surf on the Internet has turned into a bit of a damp squib. Last August the holiday company, led by chairman David Crossland, launched its booking service via the Net. Now, 10 months later, it has sold the grand total of one holiday via the Net, to a chap who went to Kenya. The people at Airtours admit to being a bit disappointed by this slow start, but are sure it will ultimately take off. To this end they have hived off the IT aspects of the Internet booking service to Ross Perot's EDS. It has certainly been an eventful year for Airtours - one of their hotels in Mexico was hit by an earthquake and slid into the sea. Happily no customers were occupying it at the time.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Recruitment Genius: Software Development Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Product Manager - (Product Marketing, Financial Services)

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Assistant

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links