People & Business: `We're not going to Manchester'

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The Independent Online
Claes Hultman is never one to pull his punches, but the ebullient Swede, who runs Eurotherm and Wembley, is not going to win any friends in Manchester after comments he made yesterday. Mr Hultman, who is busy sorting out Wembley's problems, said the FA Cup Final was likely to remain at Wembley despite the site having to undergo a pounds 120m overhaul after being chosen as the preferred location for the new National Stadium.

"People want to go to Wembley and watch the FA Cup," he said. "It is an option to renovate the ground in sections. We would like to keep Wembley open. After all, who would go to Manchester to watch the Cup Final?"

Mr Hultman is no stranger to controversy. Last year he was at the centre of a boardroom bust-up with fellow directors at Eurotherm, the electrical components supplier, where he is chief executive. He resigned then was reinstated after institutional shareholders kicked up a fuss.

This year he will take a pay cut after the group announced disappointing interim results. "With profits falling I will not get my bonus," he said.

Lord Harris of Peckham, the outspoken chairman of Carpetright and former treasurer of the Conservative Party, has declared his undying support for William Hague in the battle for the Tory leadership. The millionaire carpet king, who recently shelled out pounds 50 after losing a bet with journalists on the outcome of the general election, said he was persuaded by Mr Hague's stance on Europe: "Ken Clarke is in favour of a single currency. I don't think we'll be ready for that for a few years. The Conservatives also need something different. William is young, new and enthusiastic."

Lord Harris says he is not looking for another active position in the party and will no longer make regular donations to the Tories. However, he tells me he is on hand for a spot of fundraising. "If William wants me to invite friends for dinner, I'm always willing to help."

After accusations of nepotism on the appointment of his 28-year-old son, Martin, to the board, Lord Harris said none of his other children would sit at the high table. Carpetright also employs older son Peter Harris, who is in charge of purchasing. Martin is looking a reluctant star. Not only did he ask not to be on the board, but while Lord Harris says Martin is being groomed to take over when he retires, probably in ten years, Martin is playing coy: "The right man will get the job. Whether that's me or not remains to be seen."

The legal world is agog with the revelation that Stephen Cooke, deeply involved in merging Guinness and GrandMet, has found the time for a spot of moonlighting as a writer of film scores. The Slaughter & May partner's credits apparently include the music for the Channel 4 documentary The Dying Rooms. One of my colleagues, who spent his schooldays being overshadowed by this renaissance man, says the development is in keeping with the character of somebody who seems to bely his firm's ultra-dull image. Before leading a punk rock outfit, his party piece was adapting popular songs, such as Johnny Cash's Thing Called Love to local themes.

Viscount Montgomery of Alamein can stop spinning in his grave: the future of his famous duffle coat has been secured, or at least the company which made it is facing a more certain outlook. Abe Tibbett, the company doctor who saved the Wellingborough-based maker of The Montgomery Duffle from the hands of the receivers in 1980, is bowing out, but continuity at the 99-year-old company is being preserved through a management buy-out backed by Murray Johnstone, the Glasgow-based venture capital group.

No figure is being put on the deal but Richard Nelson, the new managing director, is a happy man. Talking as a party in the Northamptonshire factory raged in the background yesterday, he waxed: "Clothing companies are two a penny, but this is a rather special one. We are going forward." Certainly duffle coats are enjoying a revival in the UK at the moment but they appear to be even more popular overseas. The Japanese are apparently prepared to part with up to pounds 600 for a genuine English model.