Me And My Partner


Michael Heseltine and Simon Tindall are chairman and managing director of Haymarket, the privately-owned publishing company which employs 850 people, publishes around 50 magazines and has an annual turnover of pounds 110m. They first met in 1959 when Simon was recruited as a salesman for the newly-launched venture.

MICHAEL HESELTINE: I had been president of the union at Oxford and Clive Labovitch owned and edited the weekly university newspaper. I rented him a shed in the grounds of the union. In 1957 Clive phoned me and said he had bought a small publishing business and would I discuss it with him.

He had acquired a publication called Oxford University What's What, a freshman's guide to cinemas, restaurants and clubs. It had a directory of opportunities for graduates, with 40 pages of display adverts from Britain's leading companies. I said: "Look, this is wrong. It's sold to freshmen. You should give it away to every last-year undergraduate in the country." He said: "That's a good idea - come and join me".

Two years later, I remember Clive telling me of Simon's imminent arrival: I was on National Service. Simon was a clean-cut public school boy, straight down to the line. He was young - about 21 - and we referred to him as "the boy".

Our first big step was the acquisition of a quarterly magazine called Man About Town. We did a spectacular property deal which gave us the money to buy it. It was a trade magazine for the bespoke trade. It was a financial disaster although its existence proved the launching pad of the Haymarket publishing group. We turned it into a monthly called Town. The name Haymarket came from an amalgamation of Hazell Watson and Viney - they bought the firm which printed Town - and Cornmarket, which then became part of the British Printing Corporation (BPC).

Our phone sales techniques were revolutionary at the time. Space-selling of the 1950s was about going out and making four to five visits per day. We realised if you were to telephone all day, you could make about 30 contacts, and if you got 10 per cent, you had three customers. If you got 25 per cent of four or five, you'd have one.

There were other people, apart from myself and Simon. Lindsay Masters was to prove one of the most creative publishers of his generation. Then there were Tom Wolsey, our creative art director and Dennis Curtis, our production editor. I remember Julian Critchley being photographed by David Bailey: I was organising the fashion shots. We sent the photographer Don McCullin off to war for the first time. He left his wife and small baby in the East End and went off to Vietnam.

There was a very close personal relationship between Lindsay, Simon and myself as the 1960s developed. We were acquiring publications and relaunching publications. We were all under huge pressure. There was day-by-day, hour-by-hour contact. In 1967, BPC invited Haymarket to take over all their magazine publishing divisions. It was a terrifically exciting time and the company doubled in size overnight. I was under increasing political pressure and in 1969 Lindsay became managing director, and I remained chairman. When I became a minister in 1970 Lindsay became chairman and Simon was managing director. My shares were put in trust and my relationship with the company ended. A lot of my time was spent in the Commons. I saw the management accounts and had lunch with Lindsay once every four months, just to keep in touch.

In 1974, I came back as a consultant for five years. I was a consultant again from 1986 to 1990, when Lindsay was chairman and Simon was managing director. When Lindsay wanted to retire last year, he became a non-executive director and I became chairman. Simon runs the business and has an encyclopedic knowledge of what people are actually thinking, despite what they are saying.

In my life, I have had three partnerships. My relationship with Lindsay and Simon has been a different ballpark altogether. The success from that has no precedent.

SIMON TINDALL: I had a place at Cambridge to read English, but I turned it down because I did National Service. Being commissioned was the best manage- ment training you could have. I had a job offer from a managing director who wanted me to be his PA, and an offer from Clive, Michael's business partner, to sell advertising space. I wanted the first job, but I was persuaded otherwise.

Clive had started Cornmarket, and Michael joined him. They were old friends. The first thing I remember about Michael was this incredible haircut. The National Service haircut was cut up to the line of your beret, one inch from your eyebrow. He had a small topknot, a mophead. He whizzed in and out of the office: there were only seven of us, on the corner of Lower James Street and Brewer Street.

Michael was a bit different. Clive, who died about four years ago, was gentle and academic, a nice man. Michael's nice but he's very direct, and he hasn't changed. He made the decisions, and made money in property, Clive ran the publications. Lindsay was Chelsea man, with dark glasses, weird shirts and tight trousers. I was fantastically impressed.

I had a 9.30am to 5.30pm job, selling space over the phone. Lindsay and I were very close colleagues. We would hit the phones and ring up everybody in British industry. We were non-stop except for one hour for lunch - we were bloody determined. I would make at least 15 successful calls each day.

I remember doing the Christmas feature for our first issue of Town. Michael and I went plundering shops and saying: "Please can we take these things to photograph?". They did get it all back. We mixed what we liked the look of, and what was going to be commercial. There were only one or two people producing fashionable clothes for men: Jaeger was one, all at the time of Carnaby Street, in 1960.

When Michael and Clive went their own ways in 1965, Lindsay and I were torn between loyalty to Clive, who had taken both of us on, and Michael, with whom we had been working. Michael was so much more of an entrepreneur. It was the right thing. Michael was a businessman, Lindsay and I were salesmen, though Lindsay became a really good product man, with a vision of the future of trade publishing. Michael was the dealmaker, and I came behind and tried to make money out of the sales.

Michael spent a lot of time in the Commons when in Opposition. He knew what was going on in the company, although we never talked business in any detail. But once he was a minister, things changed. I was having a particular problem and wanted to find the right person to talk to, and I asked Michael whom I should see. He said: "I am sorry, I can't tell you. You mustn't talk to me about it, because if I met the individual, I want to be able to look them in the eyes and say `I have no idea what you are talking about'." Michael's incredibly correct about it. That was our relationship from 1970. Later on, I would occasionally see him at the House of Commons.

I find it astonishing that Michael was away all those years, but that the business relationship which started 40 years ago is still as strong.After six months, Michael and I have resumed this sort of easy partnership. We don't have long meetings - we're too old for that. Michael is very, very quick on any point. I'll tell him if I don't like it and he'll try to persuade me. If it's a good idea, I will pursue it with enthusiasm.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Neil Pavier: Management Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...

Laura Norton: Project Accountant

£50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...

Laura Norton: Project Accountant

£50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...

Day In a Page

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

The end of an era across the continent

It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

'Focus on killing American people'

Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

Same-sex marriage

As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

The Mafia is going freelance

Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable