Pembroke: Errant knight doesn't tag along

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The Independent Online
IT SEEMS that Sir Iain Vallance, the recently knighted chairman of BT, is not fully at ease with his elevated status. At a leaving party for Colin Browne, BT's director of corporate relations who is jumping ship to join the BBC, he was wandering around with a name tag simply saying 'Iain Vallance'.

A surprising act of omission this, given how long the knighthood took to arrive. 'I had three name tags for tonight,' he explained, 'one saying chairman, another Sir Iain Vallance and this one.' In other words, two out of three were correct and he chose the one that wasn't.

MR VALLANCE (what the hell, if he drops the knighthood, so will we) does not exactly come across as a party animal. But he was getting in the spirit the other night saying what a wild and wacky idea it would be to use the BT tower, the landmark building in central London, for an end of the millennium New's Eve Party in 1999.

The 34th floor revolving restaurant was closed to the public in 1980 (a bomb was planted there in 1979) and has only been used for BT functions since. But, mused Sir Iain, it would make a splendid venue from which to greet the next century. I understand some sort of charity event is under consideration.

(Photograph omitted)

NICE TO SEE that Christopher Thomas-Everard, the West country farmer who joined the Lloyd's insurance market in 1973 during the good times and has complained constantly about the last four loss- making accounts, has lost none of his campaigning zeal.

Once again he has turned his home computer and the sparse sources available in the public domain to draw all manner of conclusions about MPs and their losses.

Mr Thomas-Everard, who is said to be 'not underwriting' in Lloyd's Blue Book, has been badly stung by losses on the Feltrim syndicate and sits on an action group desiged to seek restitution.

Beyond this, little is known about his own personal losses. Perhaps, in the name of shared information on which he seems so keen, he will be able to tell us what his personal deficit is - along the lines he uses to assess the losses of MPs.

JERMYN STREET, the discreet London home of many top gentlemen's outfitters, is expecting a new arrival. Blazer, the upmarket chain owned by Storehouse, plans to open in June a few shops down from Hackett, another newcomer with a slightly loftier image.

A case of into the lion's den, this. Blazer will be competing with Thomas Pink, Turnbull & Asser, Hilditch & Key and Hawes & Curtis, purveyors of gentleman's clothing at occasionally ungentlemanly prices.

'We are not worried,' says chief executive Frank Cox, who presides over the 27- strong chain. 'One of our best-selling lines is the double-cuffed shirt, so we know it is the right market. We are looking forward to taking the competition on.'

INTERESTING to see that Sir Terence Conran the designer-cum-foodie, will speak at a recruitment forum at the Bafta centre in London this week. One of the many issues he will address is the importance of recruiting the right people for key positions.

Sir Terence should know all about this, having learnt the hard way. He admits that his biggest business mistake was recruiting Michael Julien as chief executive of Storehouse. Sir Terence ended up leaving the company he founded after 'it became him or me'.

THE PHOTOCOPYING business has been about as popular as double-glazing and timeshare selling recently. Yesterday two directors voted with their feet and left it.

Michael Armitage and Colin Gilbert, directors of Eurocopy, fought the onslaught of bad publicity over the industry's dubious sales practices. Now they are to set up in business together.

They won't say what it is, but are adamant about one thing: it's not photocopying.