Pembroke: Brick trick pic curtails Anita Rod

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The Independent Online
MANY EYES in the City will be on Anita Roddick this week as she reports the annual results of Body Shop International, the PC potions retailer. Ms Roddick, not one to worry about the sensibilities of the pinstripe brigade, is proving more coy when it comes to trippers on the guided tour of her factory near Littlehampton in Sussex.

Displayed on the walls for the delectation of the 2,000 visitors a week are blown-up photographs of people Anita has met on her world travels. One is of Pegali Baba, a Nepalese holy man, pictured naked with eight bricks suspended from his penis. He offered to do it with 12, but Ms Roddick - fiercely opposed to cruelty to any of God's creatures - haggled him down.

It seems the picture upset some visitors, who include parties from schools and Women's Institutes. Ms Roddick has now had curtains put up. It is left to the discretion of each tour guide on whether to unveil the indefatigable Mr Baba.

DAVID SULLIVAN, proprietor of the Sunday Sport, calls to complain about our story about the sale of his stake in the Bristol Evening Post. This followed hot on the heels of his decision to sell his racehorses. He claims the story implied he had financial problems. 'Nothing could be further from the truth,' he says. 'Whilst no one would say that business is marvellous at this moment in time, I do have substantial cash balances.'

The BEP sale was because the shares had finally risen high enough to yield a modest (for modest read pounds 500,000) profit, and because he had given up hope of being allowed to take control. The withdrawal from racing would only come next season and would finance further investment in his latest acquisition, Birmingham City football club.

'I may not be as rich as Richard Branson, but I live in a pounds 7m house and I don't owe a penny on it.'

THAT CURIOUS panting is the sound of David Sainsbury and Sir Richard Greenbury approaching the finishing line neck and neck in the Great Retail Profits Handicap. You may recall how J Sainsbury last year overtook Marks & Spencer to become Britain's most profitable retailer.

This time it will be nip and tuck, with both companies expected to make about pounds 730m before tax. The odds in the City are for Mr Sainsbury, who reports on Wednesday, to edge ahead again. But Sir Richard, who wields a mean tennis racket, could yet stage a comeback in the final set. He reports six days later.

INCIDENTALLY, Sir Richard may also feel like bringing the sharp end of his racket down on his investor relations team when he reads the results of a survey on annual reports, due out tomorrow. This has M&S scoring a magnificent 0 per cent.

Consultants Meridian Design Associates, who have ranked the top 100 quoted companies according to the quality of their reports, says M&S failed to send them an annual report despite three requests. Similar wooden spoons go to Scottish Hydro-Electric, Cadbury Schweppes, Abbey National, BOC, Severn Trent and Blue Circle.

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