Pembroke: Texan beam

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The Independent Online
Interesting to see that Ladbroke, the bookies-to-hotels group, has found a replacement for Peter Hartley, who left the chief executive spot at its Texas Homecare division in July. Step forward, John Coleman, managing director of the Burton subsidiary Dorothy Perkins before he resigned in April. Mr Coleman, 41, who will also be on the main Ladbroke board, will make the leap from women's frocks to paintbrushes and creosote next month.

Currently on holiday in Portugal, the new officer will make himself known to his troops on Thursday morning via a screen debut broadcast simultaneously to all 234 Texas branches. 'It's one of the spin-offs of the bookies business,' a spokesman says. 'We have a satellite link-up which broadcasts the pictures of the racing to betting shops, but we take a couple of slots a week and use it for training.'

In the video, Mr Coleman has apparently not given away too much about strategy and price wars. 'It's a bit early for a state-of-the nation address,' Ladbroke says.

The British School of Motoring, which is seeking stock market flotation later this year, is not doing very well dredging up weird and wonderful statistics to bolster its image as Britain's premier driving instructor.

BSM was unable to tell us which of its students took the most lessons before passing a test, who failed tests a record number of times, or who was the oldest, or youngest, to pass. The best it has come up with is a claim to have had a few royals and celebs behind the wheels of its dual-control Metros and Corsas. These include the Princess of Wales (but BSM couldn't say if she passed first time), the Swedish tennis player Stefan Edberg and the popsters Seal and Betty Boo.

No clutch-busting stories of white-knuckle drivers running over pedestrians, driving into rivers or assaulting the instructor? 'I keep asking the branches for these kind of tales but no one comes up with anything,' moans a press spokesman.

WPP, the media group, still cannot get shot of Scali, McCabe, Sloves, the creative shop it has been trying to sell for more than two years. 'It's the longest-running saga since The Mousetrap,' groans a company source. The main difference, presumably, is that Agatha Christie's whodunnit is popular and people pay to see it.

You can add a nought to the severance package we reported yesterday of David Bruce, who was briefly director of finance at the ill-starred Lloyd's of London. Cash-strapped names who have had to sell homes might like to know that Mr Bruce received a princely pounds 500,000 (not pounds 50,000) from Lloyd's for just four months' work.