The Lyceum is saved... for rock musical fans; People & Business

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The Independent Online
The magnificent Lyceum Theatre near Covent Garden in London is about to reopen on 19 November after being rebuilt by Apollo Leisure at a cost of pounds 14.5m.

Two years ago Paul Gregg, chairman of Apollo and 80 per cent shareholder, bought the leasehold of the then-derelict theatre from the Theatres Trust. George Walker's Brent Walker had wanted to change the use of the theatre in the 1980s but never got permission from the Trust, and now the former stomping ground of such great Shakespearean thespians as Henry Irving and Helen Terry is saved for the theatre.

Well, up to a point. The first production will be Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Jesus Christ Superstar. Shakespeare it ain't.

George Simpson, managing director of GEC, obviously likes having familiar faces around him. Yesterday GEC appointed two of his former colleagues to senior posts.

Jack Fryer, who has been brought in as GEC's strategic planning director, worked with Mr Simpson at Lucas, Mr Simpson's last job. Rob Meakin, who becomes personnel director, comes from British Aerospace, where Mr Simpson was before Lucas.

Mr Fryer should be on top of the figures side of strategic planning - he began his career as a nuclear physicist with Rolls-Royce.

Mr Meakin certainly has a CV which would make any personnel manager quake; he worked with Ford Motor Company in the strike-plagued 1970s, then with British Leyland and Rover.

Keith Butler-Wheelhouse joined Smiths Industries as a director in August, and will take over from Sir Roger Hurn as chief executive from 19 November. Sir Roger will remain as chairman of the aerospace group.

Stepping into the Smiths cockpit yesterday, Mr Butler-Wheelhouse said how nice it was "coming into a business which doesn't need much doing to it".

What that says about the automotive side of Saab, where he was chief operating officer, I've no idea. The tanned native of the West Midlands emigrated to South Africa at the age of 15, and now aged 50 has the accent to match.

There's just one fly in the ointment at Smiths, he says: "I'm still trying to come to grips with these aerospace acronyms. I still find this alphabet soup confusing."

I see what he means. In Smiths's results presentation yesterday, simplified for the consumption of journalists, the company mentioned JPATS, F/A-18C/Ds, Sims Level 1 and HMOs. Before you ask, I haven't a clue.

Don't worry, Mr Butler-Wheelhouse. Aerospace has nothing on accountancy when it comes to acronyms.

ICAEW, APB, FRC and Cima were all bandied about yesterday as Chris Swinson, a partner in BDO Stoy Hayward and the Orson Welles of the accountancy world, addressed journalists on the joys of self regulation.

The profession which audits our companies still insists that it can sort out its own wrongdoers in-house, without pesky intervention from the DTI and the like.

Mr Swinson was proposing a new independent body which would regulate the regulators. On the same panel was Norman Lyle, senior vice president of Cima, which represents management accountants.

Cima recently broke off merger talks with the chartered accountant's body, and evidently still harbours hurt pride at what it sees as snobbery amongst the chartered brethren.

Every time Mr Swinson made a point, Mr Lyle broke in with a contradiction or a question. Things got so heated that there was audible relief when the presentation ended.

Everyone trooped into another room for lunchtime drinks, at which point Mr Swinson announced that no alcohol would be served. Just as well, opined the reporters, otherwise a fracas of some sort could well have ensued.

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