Business Diary: Catlin gets a lift in terrible year

Our congratulations to Stephen Catlin, chief executive of Lloyd's of London insurance group Catlin, who was named as the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year yesterday. Catlin is certainly entitled to the prize, having founded the insurer in 1984 with just one other colleague for company. Today, it turns over £2.6bn a year and employs 1,600 staff in 22 countries around the world. Catlin also deserves a break – 2011 has been the worst year for natural disasters in the insurance business's history, with all of the big listed insurers reporting chunky losses.



Barclays axes perks of the job

Who says the banks aren'tbuying the "we're all in this together" mantra of our Prime Minister? We hear that Barclays Bank is having something of a crackdown on costs, reining in many of the privileges its staff have long enjoyed. There'll be no more business class tickets on flights of less than four hours duration, for example, while staff will have to stay in the office for a whole hour longer – until 10pm rather than 9pm – if they want to use the bank's late night car services. Even then, many employees will only be entitled to get a cab to the nearest station. Austerity bites.



New role for retail industry veteran

Good to see that Steve Johnson is continuing to bounce back. Yesterday, he was appointed to the newly formed "Industry Advisory Board" of private equity firm Mid Europa Partners. You'll remember Johnson from the days when he served as chief executive of Woolworths, before the retailer went bust in 2009. He had previously spent four years running Focus DIY, though it, sadly, is no longer around either, having gone under earlier this year. Johnson will certainly bring some valuable insights to Mid Europa.



Unseasonal lift for John Lewis

Breaking news from department store chain John Lewis, which tells us that sales of trampolines were up 200 per cent over the weekend, as much of Britain basked in an Indian summer. Climbing frame sales did even better – up 300 per cent. All we can say is that if you managed to get the things home and build them before the weather turned, we salute you.

businessdiary@independent.co.uk

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