People and Business

Back to the shop floor New signing Top marque Michelin men
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STEVE BROOMHEAD, chief executive of Warrington Borough Council, is swapping places with a fireman, and the chair of Dorset County Council, Pat Hymers, is changing places with a tea lady.

The musical chairs are in aid of national Learning at Work Day on 20 May, an event organised by the Campaign for Learning and sponsored by hundreds of companies, including Marks & Spencer, British Aerospace and National Grid.

The Learning at Work campaign stresses the importance of senior management commitment, and a number of chief executives have been challenged to practise what they preach with "back to the floor" job swaps.

Thus the chairman of Microsoft UK, David Svendsen, is set to swap places with Michael Bichard, the Permanent Secretary at the Department for Education and Employment. Sadly, the usual Microsoft share options are not part of the deal.

Sir David White, chairman of Mansfield Brewery, has joined Nottingham Forest as a non-executive director as the process continues of returning the club to "local" control.

This follows the departure of London-based property developer Nigel Wray as chairman a week ago in favour of a local man, Eric Barnes, deputy chairman of Great Universal Stores, a big employer in Nottingham.

Sir David is certainly a local worthy, having been head of the Nottingham Health Authority for 12 years and chairman of the board of governors of Nottingham Trent University. He has been a lifelong supporter of the club and a long-term shareholder.

Mr Barnes expects to appoint at least one more non-exec. And the manager is still "Big" Ron Atkinson.

LESS THAN a year after buying Lamborghini, the Italian sports car manufacturer, from cash-strapped Asians including the former Indonesian President Suharto's youngest son Tommy, Audi has dropped any idea of keeping the firm "independent".

Instead the suits from Ingoldstadt, Germany, have put two of their men in charge. Hajden Leshel has taken over marketing and technician Rodolfo Rocchio is overseeing engineering and design.

Every decision has to be referred back to Germany, and Lamborghini's chief executive, Vittorio Di Capua, is believed to be on the way out.

The Italians are now under orders to increase production to 2,000 cars a year. A tall order, given that total production in 1997 was just 200, with a total over the previous 35 years of 8,000.

Audi's crackdown may well have been inspired by BMW's experience with Rover, although the two cases are quite different. So far, Audi is down only the DM100m (pounds 35m) on what it is estimated to have spent on buying the company, which is already in the black.

Even so, Audi's chief bean-counter, Ditmar Schimanski, has been publicly complaining about the fact that Audi somehow managed to wind up owning only the Automobili Lamborghini marque, but not full rights to the name.

As he has painfully discovered, this means Tonino Lamborghini, son of the firm's founder, is free to cash in by licensing the name to makers of everything from olive oil and pasta to golf clubs and sunglasses.

Meanwhile in Indonesia, Tommy Suharto is still the owner of the Lamborghini Cafe in Jakarta.

WHATEVER HAPPENS in the current merger rumpus with its major banks, France's tyremaking industry is still a reassuringly family affair. Michelin announced yesterday that Edouard Michelin, 35, will succeed his father, Francois Michelin, as head of the company.

Francois Michelin, 72, joined the council of the family-run company in 1955 and still has another three years to go. And the company's literally pneumatic mascot, "Bibendum", also serves on, although in a slightly slimmer form than in previous years.