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People & Business

Peter Baillie, BZW's head of corporate communications for the past five years, has left the investment bank to take up the same role at GKN, the engineering group that owns Westland Helicopters. Far from being a victim of last week's acquisition of BZW's equities and corporate finance activities by Credit Suisse First Boston, Mr Baillie is leaving with the bank's blessing, I'm told.

"I've been talking with GKN for a few months," says Mr Baillie. "I spent most of my career in manufacturing and it will be good to get back to it."

The affable Scot has gardening leave until January, when he swaps BZW's Canary Wharf glass towers for GKN's swank offices in St James's, central London.

Bob Diamond, the New Yorker who now heads up the business left at Barclays, renamed Barclays Capital, has decided not to replace the irreplaceable Mr Baillie.

GKN will be familiar stuff for Mr Baillie, who has decades of defence and automotive experience. When he was spokesman at Plessey's, he was the only member of the corporate staff to be kept on by Lord Weinstock when GEC swooped. Before that, he spent 10 years Austin Rover.

'Tis the season to write about shopping surveys. Neil Mason, an analyst with Mintel, the retail research company, says the British public spends pounds 1.6bn on food and pounds 345m on decorations during the festive period. If anything, we're becoming more obsessed by spending at Christmas. Nearly one-third of retail sales and more than one-quarter of total consumer expenditure is made in the fourth quarter, a share which is rising, says Mr Mason.

So what should you be flogging this year? Mr Mason has found that sales of chocolate confectionery have gone up by 16.3 per cent in 1995-6. Other winners include mince pies, up 10.3 per cent, biscuit assortments, up 10.2 per cent, and "snack nuts" (what other kind are there?), up 14.5 per cent. Mincemeat sees off all comers, up a mighty 18.2 per cent. The only party poopers in Mr Mason's Christmas stocking are whole turkeys, whose sales fell 8. 9 per cent over the same period.

Against a background of financial crisis in the Far East, Nomura International has made what it calls "a landmark appointment" by promoting a non-Japanese, a former American Marine called Max C Chapman, to become chairman and chief executive. Mr Chapman, 54, will operate in London where Nomura International, the global subsidiary of Tokyo-based Nomura Securities, has its base. Mr Chapman succeeds Takashi Tsutsui, who has spent the past four years in the post.

Mr Chapman was president and chief operating officer of Kidder, Peabody, the Wall Street firm, until he joined Nomura International in 1989. His specific brief today is to beef up Nomura's European business.

Meanwhile Sir Douglas Wass, former Treasury mandarin and ex-chairman of Axa Equity & Law, will retire as non-executive co-chairman of Nomura next May at the age of 75 after 11 years at the helm.

Antony Snow, chairman of Hill & Knowlton, addressed a galaxy of the great and the good on Tuesday at the PR firm's 70th birthday party at Apsley House, the first Duke of Wellington's mansion on Hyde Park Corner.

Amazingly for a spin doctor, Mr Snow cracked a reasonably funny joke. (Only joking, chaps.) He told the assembled tycoons, editors and grand panjandrums that when he left Oxford he wrote to his father, thanking the latter for his generosity in supporting Snow jnr over the years. Mr Snow also told his pater that he was to become an advertising agent.

"He replied that he was pleased to have been of what assistance he could, but questioned whether advertising was really the highest to which I could aspire for so much investment," Mr Snow told the audience.

Some 25 years later Mr Snow told his dad that he had swapped advertising for PR. "I received an ecstatic acknowledgement, saying he had always had the greatest confidence that I would progress from advertising and he was particularly delighted because he had long believed that there was much to be said for proportional representation."

Martin Sorrell, head of WPP, the advertising and marketing group, was breakfasting at the Connaught with a colleague of mine this week when he espied an Armani raincoat hanging over the back of a neighbouring chair. Mr Sorrell summoned a waiter and had a heated conversation about the ownership of the coat. The WPP chief's cry was that this was somebody else's raincoat - so where was his Armani raincoat? Finally the advertising grandee gave up and left with the disputed raincoat. So who has got the real one, and is there anything interesting in the pockets?