Outlook: Menzies bites the bullet
Friday 23 January 1998
The story is a familiar one. Caught between the ever-expanding supermarkets on one hand and the specialist books, music and greeting card shops on the other, Menzies has been struggling to find a formula capable of attracting customers in the numbers required. The new owners will have their work cut out to improve the position, even if they do look like getting the chain on the cheap.
Menzies' problems should be no surprise, as we have seen this all before with WH Smith. Similar products, similar sized stores and similar locations. The only difference was that it had an even weaker brand name.
There are other parallels, too. WH Smith was, until recently, a bumbling business run by a family of old Etonians and Guards officers. Not that there is anything wrong with being an old Etonian, but the old school tie was what counted. Menzies has not been noticeably different. The Menzies family control more than half the shares and until 1996, its chairman was John Maxwell Menzies (Eton, Grenadier Guards), the great grandson of the original founder. Two other directors, including one non-executive, are married to the Menzies family. Major General C A Ramsay, another non- executive and major shareholder, is a cousin of John Maxwell Menzies.
David Mackay, the newish chief executive, deserves credit for biting the bullet on retailing but even he can hardly be described as a new broom; he's been with the company for more than 30 years.
The sale of the Menzies chain seems to be virtually in the bag but off- loading the Early Learning Centres may prove a harder nut to crack. Widescale closures look likely and it is all too possible that Menzies could suffer a Sears-like fate, where the shops have effectively to be given away, leaving Menzies with hefty exceptional charges. There's a lesson here. Don't invest in fourth generation family-run companies.
Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'
Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'
Thought you'd seen it all after the Jeremy Paxman interview?
Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent
"History is violent," says the US Army tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
- 3 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 4 Jimmy Carr's Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 5 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery rumours: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
FCKH8: YouTube reinstates provocative anti-sexism video showing young girls swearing
Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
Diwali: What is the festival of lights – and how is it celebrated around the world?
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
iJobs Money & Business
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...
£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...
£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...
£100 - 125k: Guru Careers: A CTO / Chief Technology Officer is needed to join ...