People & Business: This time ISA's chief executive lasted six weeks

BEING chief executive of ISA International, the toner cartridge to ink jet computer products distributor, is getting as secure an occupation as England Test batsman. Yesterday John Parkinson stepped aside after just six weeks in the job, having succeeded Richard Lindsey, who lasted 14 months.

Before that Peter Hildrew also lasted 14 months at the helm, before resigning in July last year. At the time, the company blamed his departure on personal reasons, saying Mr Hildrew felt that his decision to marry someone who lived in the south of England was not compatible with his working for a Bradford-based company.

Yesterday the new chief executive and chairman of ISA, David Heap, said everything would be different from now on. Mr Heap founded ISA in 1976 and then sold out in the 1980s in order to launch other companies in the US, only to buy back a fifth of ISA four months ago.

Despite yesterday's profits warning from ISA, Mr Heap is confident he can deal with the margin pressures which have hit the company.

And Bradford will no longer be an issue, he added. "I live primarily in London."

VIRGIN DIRECT'S Christmas drinks party at the Sanctuary in Covent Garden, London, on Tuesday night was a lively affair. While Richard Branson was off ballooning in Morocco, Rowan Gormley, managing director of Virgin Direct, played host to the great and the good of the financial services industry.

Only one problem surfaced during the proceedings - large numbers of men wandering around the building desparately looking for the gents. The Sanctuary is of course a woman-only health club, so the loos had to become unisex for the evening.

The club's swimming pool was once used as a set for one of Joan Collins' more risque films. Mr Gormley was thrown into the very same pool, suit and all. No doubt Mr Branson would have apapproved.

SIR TERENCE CONRAN'S latest restaurant venture, the Coq d'Argent, seems something of a hit. Located on the roof of a new building just opposite the Bank of England, the eatery yesterday lunchtime attracted (at different tables) Nicola Foulston, head of Brands Hatch and former Businesswoman of the Year, Mark Boleat, outgoing director-general of the Association of British Insurers, and Sir Terence himself, sporting his trademark blue shirt.

THE MAN who led the computerisation of air traffic control at Heathrow Airport has just been appointed secretary of the London Society of Chartered Accountants.

Ian Strange, 51, returns to the job from Russia, where he was formerly human resources director for Arthur Andersen, and before that Coopers & Lybrand (Now PricewaterhouseCoopers).

After reading maths at Reading University, Mr Strange started his career with Marconi, and was team leader for the automation of Heathrow's air traffic control. It was only then that he saw the light and became an accountant.

JOHN PINNEGAR, the Independent Financial Advisers Association's chief spokesman and a former Tory Parliamentary candidate, is joining New Labour. The schoolboy-faced former spokesman for Fimbra told Money Marketing that he finally cracked because of the Tory policy on the European currency. This must all come as a bit of a shock to his former colleagues in the far-right Monday Club and Lambeth Council, where he was a Tory councillor for three years.

Mr Pinnegar says another reason for defecting to Labour was his admiration for Helen Liddell, currently Scottish Office minister, and her handling of the pensions review.

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