Wednesday 09 September 1998
Hanson long ago broke itself of the habit, and BTR has been shedding businesses like there's no tomorrow. Dalgety has dismembered itself, and even accident-prone Albert Fisher is beginning to get the hint.
Only a few die-hards like Wassall and Tomkins soldier on. Even Greg Hutchings' guns to buns conglomerate is re-grouping itself into four divisions to give the impression of focus.
Hillsdown was always the rag bag to end all rag bags. Built up in the 1980s by Sir Harry Solomon and David Thompson, it operated what it openly described as the "Lily Pad management technique". This saw Hillsdown cast as the frog sat on a huge lily pad. Its approach to acquisitions, it said, was "to stick out its huge tongue and swallow what ever flies by."
Even at the time, this raised eyebrows, but undeterred, Hillsdown was by the mid-1980s using its paper to do a deal a week. The idea was to buy businesses - any business - in a mature fragmented market and then wring out cost-savings.
Hillsdown amassed property, a department store in Tunbridge Wells, meat processing, housebuilding and string of food businesses ranging from Typhoo Tea to Chivers Hartley jams. It all amounted to a right old mess, with little logic to much of it.
Now, with its three way demerger and disposal programme, the management is actually in danger of creating some value to the business. The frog may not quite be about to turn into a prince of the stock market, but at least it is no longer sitting in a stagnant pond with its tongue hanging out.
- 1 'Kidnapped boy may have been abused and murdered by VIP paedophile ring,' say police
- 2 Ridley Scott on Exodus, Gods and Kings casting: 'I'm not going to get it financed if my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such'
- 3 Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
- 4 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 5 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
Black Friday 2014: Opening times for Asda, John Lewis, GAME, PC World and Argos
Miss Honduras Maria Jose Alvarado's stylist Luis Alfredo Garcia is found stabbed to death
Dr Lam Hoe Yeoh: Voyeur doctor jailed for eight years after using network of hidden cameras to film patients, colleagues and friends on the toilet
'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Exclusive: UK approved £7m Israeli arms sales in six months before Gaza conflict
iJobs Money & Business
£6000 - £60000 per annum + Bonus and Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: UI De...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: SThree, International Recruitme...
Negotiable: h2 Recruit Ltd: A rapidly expanding, global Software/ SaaS Vendor ...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £Competitive: SThree: SThree Group and have be...