Outlook: Rose throws out the kitchen sink
Wednesday 11 November 1998
There was the scrapping of the dividend, the pointed remarks about "overoptimistic expectations" by previous management, a boardroom departure, the threat of job cuts and even the possible breach of its banking covenants. It was a full "kitchen sink" job.
And perhaps this is the point. Stuart Rose has only been Booker's chief executive for about six weeks. Like a new manager at a football club, he has the opportunity to size everything up, decide what he doesn't like and justifiably throw it overboard while blaming it all on his predecessors. Coming this early in his tenure, Mr Rose cannot be held responsible for a further plunge in profits.
Even so, the scale of it is quite breathtaking and questions must be asked about why the market was not alerted before. It is only a matter of weeks since Jonathan Taylor, the erstwhile Booker chairman, was insisting that there was no black hole in Booker's accounts and that the company was not in danger of breaching its banking covenants. He was speaking after first Somerfield and then Budgens had run away from the idea of merging with Booker. Neither company said exactly why it had taken fright, but the implication in at least one case was that something nasty had been found in the woodshed.
Trading has undoubtedly got tougher in the last few weeks, as retailers such as Marks & Spencer and Boots have said, but surely not by this scale of magnitude.
All of this leaves Booker in a pretty sorry state. It has just two executive directors, and a business that seems to be heading south at a rate of knots. Mr Rose is faced with the task of exiting a number of businesses while trying to revitalise the core chain. After this long in the doldrums and dogged by takeover and merger speculation, divisional management must be completely demoralised.
But as this column has argued before, Mr Rose ought to be able to do something with a business with sales of more than pounds 5bn. The previous management invested heavily in the business in their final years, and barring a collapse in consumer spending, that should start to pay off. But it will be a long road back and if there are any upsets from now on, Mr Rose will have no one else to blame.
- 1 Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
- 2 Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
- 3 Lady al-Qa’ida: On the trail of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the world’s most wanted prisoner
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 It's not just the savagery of Isis that is shocking – its weaponry is too
YouTube video posted by Isis militants shows 'execution of 250 Syrian soldiers'
Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
Sir Paul McCartney makes his stance on Scottish independence known
PM sets out tough new anti-terror measures in response to heightened threat
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...
£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...
£50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, L...
£60000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A prestigious leading professiona...