People and Business: Toy story is just a fable

EVERY BUSINESS success begins with an apocryphal tale, and the story of the top-selling children's construction toy K'NEX, now rivalling Lego, is no exception.

According to the legend, inventor Joel Glickman was sitting out the dancing at a wedding. Idly bending the plastic straws in the drinks, he discovered that he could connect them together and make various shapes. But "that's just the soundbite," says Mr Glickman, who was in London yesterday for the launch at the Science Museum of his latest, solar-powered, model.

Having decided that the plastics business he ran with his brother Bob had limited growth opportunities, they looked around for other options and hit upon toys. However, the straws idea "didn't work worth a damn," he says.

But it sowed the germ of another idea and became the basis for a business that, since being launched in time for Christmas 1992, has grown to the point where this year retail sales have hit $100m (pounds 60m). Sales to 40 countries around the world are masterminded from a manufacturing, packaging and distribution centre at Ashford in Kent.

Initially none of the major toy producers was interested in a joint venture. Since then, though, Hasbro has become the Glickmans' partner and Lego has come up with the ultimate accolade - its own version called Znap.

Mr Glickman does not see it in quite that way. "I'm damn angry about it," he says. "I could design a better brick than the Lego brick, and I may well do it."

SUZANNA TAVERNE, managing director at FT Finance for just six months, got her marching orders yesterday together with two other senior publishing executives.

The other two to fall victim to the revamp of FT magazines were Jeremy King, publisher of the Investors Chronicle, and Mark van der Weyer, operations director.

Marjorie Scardino, the chief executive of Pearson, brought Ms Taverne in to relaunch the Investors Chronicle. This included hiking the price of the weekly mag from around two quid to a hefty pounds 2.95.

The departures were caused by the integration of three FT magazine divisions into one new division. Instead of FT Finance, Media, and Energy, there will just be "FT Business", headed by David Hurst, formerly of the Energy division.

Other new additions are Martin Burke from Reuters as marketing director, and Jane Emma Peerless from the FT newspaper as advertising director.

Sadly there was no job of sufficient seniority for Ms Taverne, an FT insider admitted. No doubt a hefty pay-off may soften the blow.

IT IS PERHAPS a bit unfair to take the rise out of actuaries for being a bit train-spotterish: after all, they do vital work for insurance companies, estimating how many of us are going to die, of what, and when, and other useful things.

However, the latest issue of The Actuary is a bit alarming. Reacting to a recent survey called "All Time Top 1,000 Albums" which had The Beatles' Revolver at Number One, the actuaries' monthly decided to do its own musical survey.

The mag says: "Some people took the request very literally and submitted the catalogue numbers of their favourite discs; some people supplemented their lists with a full report justifying their selection and providing a range of names that could result under differing listening conditions; and most people chose to ignore it completely."

The writer adds: "One gentleman did suggest that his favourite recordings included The Best of Lulu and This is York, the Sounds of a Great Station - initially I presumed that he was being ironic, but with actuaries one can never be too sure." How true.

BA'S SWANKY new head office just off the M4, called "Waterside" and opened by Prince Charles a couple of months ago, has already made an impact. Local taxi drivers routinely refer to it as "Ayling Island".

No doubt this is a tribute to Bob Ayling, BA's energetic chief executive. This is a lot more complimentary than the nickname for BA's old head office, Speedbird House, universally known as "Birdseed House". How cheap.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Services - City, London

£50000 - £55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Service...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is the o...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions