Pembroke: Myers facing a hairy old chestnut

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The Independent Online
Is he or is he not going to shave it off? This is the question being asked in the City about Roger Myers' beard. The chairman of Pelican Group, which owns the Cafe Rouge chain of brasseries, grew his distinguished white-flecked growth while holidaying in the Venezuelan rain forests over Christmas. He asked advisers at the time: 'What do you think then, Sean Connery or Yasser Arafat?'

But some say the City takes a dim view of chairmen and chief executives with beards, and one analyst told him as much at the company's results meeting earlier this month. 'You want to get rid of that, Roger,' he said.

Mr Myers, who is on business in the US until next week, is thought unlikely to take to the razor until his South American tan fades, as he would risk looking rather stripey. But he may like to consider the advice of one banker who, having escaped involvement in a corporate disaster, said his secret was simply to follow the old maxim: never lend to a man with a beard. The likes of Richard Branson, Lord Hollick and Alan Sugar might dispute this, of course.

You've got to hand it to Newell and Sorrell, the graphic designers run by the also elegantly bearded John Sorrell. Every six weeks or so he holds an evening seminar where a special guest is invited to speak and the assembled creative types network like mad with each other afterwards. The idea is to inject inspiration into the consultancy's creative staff. 'It's like a transfusion,' he says. With a budget that the designer admits is limited, Mr Sorrell attracts an impressive list of names. At the end of this month, the author Doris Lessing will speak on her life in Africa, adding her name to a list that includes Helen Sharman, the British astronaut, Sir Bernard Ingham, David Bellamy, Sebastian Coe and the fashion designer Paul Smith.

City types who fancy themselves as general knowledge wizards will soon have the opportunity to put their brains to the test. On 1 February Bacup, the cancer information charity, launches its third City challenge. Hosted by the Carlton TV newsreader Fiona Foster and, the charity hopes, Peter Snow of Newsnight, the event is expected to raise around pounds 50,000. Entry fees are pounds 250 per team of four. Last year's winners, BZW, will be defending their title.

I hear questions will be a little different this year. Apparently those bright guys from the Square Mile complained that the business questions were too difficult last time, so the section has been dropped.

Isuppose it's all money but you would think William Lavin, chairman and chief executive of Woolworth Corp, might show a bit more sympathy.

Speaking from the seismic safety of New York, he said he expected the Los Angeles earthquake to stimulate demand for durable goods, household products and general merchandise.

'There is a short-term bump after natural disasters,' he said - no pun, presumably, intended. 'But you don't like to get it that way.'

Move over Linda Lusardi. Monet is making a move. This is one of the messages from Bemrose, the calendar publisher, which says that in these politically correct times, sales of 'glamour' calendars have fallen by 20 per cent. Sales of fine art calendars featuring artists such as Monet and Sir William Russell Flint have risen by 15 per cent. 'Managers are happy to receive glamour calendars but less content to be seen to send them to their customers,' Bemrose says.

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