Pembroke: Gunfight not OK by Midland

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More proof that bankers don't have a sense of humour. The Midland in Mansfield, Notts, has turned down a request from a local entrepreneur to stage a mock bank raid as a marketing stunt.

Paul Olsen, an American who starts production of a new snack food in Derbyshire this week, asked the favour. His Pecos Pete brand of 'steak flakes' will be marketed using a Wild West theme and he hoped to ride into the branch on horseback and demand the loot.

The friendly bank manager who handles Mr Olsen's account was quite keen. But the honchos at Midland's head office have stamped on it.

'We don't feel it is appropriate,' they sniff. 'Perhaps, as it is using a horse, he should try Lloyds.' Perhaps he might feel like taking his account there too.

Tim Melville-Ross, the lanky new head of the Institute of Directors, got off to an awkward start in his first photocall yesterday. There he was, best bib and tucker, outside the IoD's offices on Pall Mall when a tourist wandered by. Sensing Mr Melville-Ross must be famous or even royalty if so many people were taking his picture, he joined in. 'Are you famous?' he asked. 'Er, no, not particularly,' said the rather embarrassed IoD chief and scuttled inside.

Going on holiday in the middle of a bid battle is a risky move, and so it has proved for David Sainsbury. While the battle for William Low was hotting up he flew confidently to the south of France at the weekend - and has had the early part of his trip ruined.

Instead of paddling around on a lilo he has spent three days on the blower to his fellow directors. The supermarket chain says a battery of calls came in from the chairman until yesterday lunchtime, then stopped. Mr Sainsbury had clearly decided that enough was enough and lilo time had arrived.

An otherwise somnolent annual meeting at Asprey, the posh jeweller, was energised by a lively shareholder who just refused to sit down. Whenever there was a lull in the proceedings he popped up like a jack-in-the-box.

Why don't the directors have name tags? he demanded. Why have we got two auditors rather than than one? And, bizarrely, why don't we pay them a bit more so they can buy more shares?

'This doesn't always happen,' said a giggling Naim Attallah, the chief executive. 'We've not seen him before.'

What do you get the family with everything? Try a free British butler for a year.

A new scheme, aimed at wealthy Arabs, Americans and Japanese, has been launched by the London International School of Butlers, a training ground for the traditional stiff-upper-lip personal assistant.

For dollars 100,000 the butler's dollars 35,000 salary and expenses are covered. 'If they see one of our people for a year we think they will want to employ them permanently,' the school says.

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