Pembroke: Sir James gets a break in the labour market

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The Independent Online
SIR JAMES McKinnon, the former head of Ofgas who stepped down in November, clearly believes that where work is concerned variety is the spice of life. Why put up with one job when you can have eight? Yesterday Sir James added to his tally with the non-executive chairmanship of T Cowie, the motor group.

The silver-haired Scot also has board positions at MAI, Lord Hollick's media and financial group, Ionica (radio telecommunications), Scotia Holdings (pharmaceuticals), Admiral (computers) and an industrial advisory slot at Hambros Bank.

The Cowie post means that the former watchdog has accepted three jobs already this month including the non-executive chair of the soon-to-be-floated Trafficmaster, the traffic congestion monitor, and an advisory position at Calor Gas.

The latter had Peter Hain MP tabling a Commons motion accusing Sir James of 'serving his time as a public servant before shoving his nose in the free market trough.'

Speaking live from the trough, Sir James told Pembroke that all this was poppycock and that there was nothing wrong with having so many jobs. 'If I felt it was unmanageable I wouldn't have taken them on,' he says, stating that he makes sure he has two spare days a week.

But he did confirm that his new portfolio career remunerated him with significantly more dosh than the pounds 70,000 a year he muddled along on at Ofgas. 'You could say that,' he said.

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PURVEYOR of shirts and club ties to London's gentlemen since 1898, TM Lewin and Sons has earned what I suspect may turn out to be a succes d'estime. It has just been selected by Lloyd's of London to supply its corporate ties and personalised gift items.

Cash-strapped 'names' may have other concerns on their minds, such as financial ruin, to bother with a new natty item of neckwear. But the managing director, Geoffrey Quinn, believes there is a market.

'A number of Lloyd's members asked us whether we might start doing this when the shop on the Lloyd's premises closed last year,' he says. 'We believe there will be quite a lot of interest.'

A CITY BARBER may have more than a few double crowns and sideburns to contend with when he opens a new shop today. He could have to wield the scissors in the presence of camera-toting tourists.

Andy Griffin has been grooming locks at Nicholson and Griffin on Cannon Street for five years. But the site of his new shop on Leadenhall Market has a tourist attraction in its basement. According to English Heritage, the salon's lower floor contains the base of a Roman column that once supported the roof of the market above.

English Heritage is providing atmospheric lighting and believes a steady stream of visitors will take the unusual detour. Mr Griffin, who had to agree to a clause in the lease permitting public access, is not so sure. 'I don't know what all the fuss is about. It just looks like a pile of old bricks to me.'

FROM THE Stock Exchange comes a fancy-coloured calendar designed to help investors work out when they should be settling their deals under the new 10- day rolling settlement system being introduced in July.

The calendar, a riot of green, red, purple and yellow, is colour- coded, so if you trade on a dark green day you settle on the next dark green day.

Therein lies the problem. The colour-blind among us cannot tell the difference between red and green. The Stock Exchange should have known this. Tony Preece, head of post-trade development, is a sufferer.

HOARE GOVETT lost its entire sterling distribution team yesterday when all six upped and left for NatWest Markets.

The team leader, Robert Derbyshire, will join as a director. A mega-bucks move? 'One would have thought so,' one insider said.