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 Kim Jong-un shows off airport designed by architect he likely had executed
- 2 Michael Douglas regrets 'embarrassing' Catherine Zeta-Jones with oral sex comments
- 3 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 4 Tunisian builder has been hailed a hero after knocking gunman to the ground with roof tiles
- 5 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
Michael Douglas regrets 'embarrassing' Catherine Zeta-Jones with oral sex comments
Kim Jong-un shows off airport designed by architect he likely had executed
Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
Tunisian builder has been hailed a hero after knocking gunman to the ground with roof tiles
Greece debt crisis: Athens has one day to find €1.6bn
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Extend Right To Buy to tenants of private landlords, Labour's Jeremy Corbyn says
David Cameron struck double blow in his hopes to win Britain a new EU deal
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
iJobs Money & Business
£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...
£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This extremely successful and well-established...
Competitive with monthly bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced FX...