Pembroke: Stitching up the Russians

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The Independent Online
Bernard Weatherill, the Savile Row tailor of which the former Speaker of the House of Commons is president, is striking out for new markets. It has targeted Russia's new rich as potential customers for the distinctive cut of a good English suit.

The store, which also does a nice line in equestrian clothing, is working on some promotional material and hopes to start the push for eastern Europe early next year. Hugh Holland, the group's rangy managing director, says there are plenty of people in free-market Russia willing to pay top dollar for a decent suit.

'We heard that some Hong Kong tailors went out but didn't do very well because their suits were too cheap (dollars 500),' he says. A Bernard Weatherill suit (dollars 2,000 to you, squire), might fare better.

London International Group, the condom maker, says its exhibition stand at the international Aids conference in Japan is proving a big hit. The main attraction is a machine that inflates one of the company's new Avanti condoms to two and half feet high. LIG says the display is not intended to make visitors feel inadequate but to demonstrate the strength of the new polyurethane condom, which will be launched later this year.

'We've had a Japanese TV crew filming it and the stand staff have been rushed off their feet from seven in the morning until eight at night,' LIG says.

Staff in the corporate finance department at Swiss Bank could be in for a few racing tips following the appointment of the well-connected Alan Dargan as managing director.

The 41-year-old financier is the son of Michael Dargan, chairman of Goffs, the Irish horse sales group, and a former chairman of the Irish airline Aer Lingus.

Alan Dargan, who joins Swiss Bank from CS First Boston, grew up on a horse farm in Ireland and has since bought a stud farm in the Curragh. Friends joke that Mr Dargan specialises in breeding slow horses but he denies it. 'I've had numerous winners,' he counters.

They seem to go for silly names in the telecommunications business. We've had Rabbit and Orange. Now give a lukewarm welcome to Parrot, a new voice-mail company launched by the equally odd-sounding company Norwegian Blue. 'It's all part of demystifying technology,' Parrot says.

More activity in the leisure market. Last week, an Israeli businessman bought Quietwaters, the high-profile golf development that promised so much then fell into receivership. Now Michael Purtill has formed a hotel group called Paramount.

Mr Purtill is a recession-hardened animal. His last job was managing director of Principal Hotels, the chain that sank into receivership in 1991 after problems within its Australian parent company. 'I specialise in turning hotels round,' he says.

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