Trouble with the letters of the law


BEFORE Christmas we ran an alternative quiz which, you may remember, identified less well known meanings for acronyms such as ICI and BBC (Internet Central Indiana and Bolder Bicycle Commuter).

No sooner had the last drop fallen from Bunhill's quill than a real-life acronym war broke out in the alphabet-strewn world of British trade organisations. Solicitors for the Freight Transport Association (FTA) sent a letter to the Fork Truck Association (FTA), which until last week was the Fork Truck Hire Association (FTHA). "We are saying they are passing themselves off as us," a spokesman for the Freight Transport Association says, adding that his organisation covers the training of forklift truck drivers. "It's very silly."

Barry Lea, secretary of the new FTA, is unrepentant. "We dropped the word hire because it was no longer appropriate. We knew the Freight Transport Association existed, but we also knew about the Flotation Tank Association." Any number of organisations share the same initials, he says. He should know: one of the companies he runs is called Comfort Building Services, and he has yet, he says, to receive a writ from a well-known American broadcaster.

BUNHILL is against acronyms: this column would look pretty silly if it were called "B". The longer the name the better, which is why I was upset to see that Knight Frank and Rutley have decided to give Rutley the boot.

Nameless terror

MY CHARTERED surveying mole tells me that companies in his profession have an irresistible urge to lose bits of their names. This must be upsetting for the families of the excommunicated founders - May and Rowden, abandoned by Hillier Parker; Rawlence and Squarey, dumped by Humbert Flint; the exotic Eiloart Inman and Nunn, kicked out by Daniel Watney. Someone, my chum suggests, should honour them by starting a company called May, Rowden, Rawlence, Squarey, Eiloart, Inman and Nunn.

You may already have spotted that the logo below is part of this story. There are two names but three heads - because this chartered surveyor decided it wanted rid of its third name, but could not bear to change the logo. This is especially sad because the nameless head is that of John Postlethwaite of Liverpool. Why on earth the company thought boring old Matthews and Goodman deserved to survive more than a Postlethwaite, goodness only knows. But it is not too late - bring back Postlethwaite, I say, and you will have a more interesting name and a logo that makes sense.

THIS IS the time of year when Veuve Clicquot starts looking for its Businesswoman of the Year. It does this because, it claims, Nicole Clicquot was the first female tycoon.

She was widowed when she was young, took over her husband's vineyard and did wonderful things with the champagne - not least inventing the remuage technique that makes it so clear. She also had an energetic sales representative in St Petersburg during the Napoleonic War - when France was at war with Russia. His diligence paid off: when Clicquot finally got through in 1814, it swept the imperial market.

Madame Clicquot, who died at 89, is still world- famous. The same sadly cannot be said of many past winners of her award. I confess that I have heard of only half a dozen of the British winners in the past 22 years. The champagne glass ceiling remains unsmashed, it seems.

Party list

IT'S encouraging to see that the old days of political patronage are not quite dead. I was immensely cheered to see that Graham Kirkham, well known for his support of the Conservatives, was given a knighthood last weekend for "charitable services to the Duke of Edinburgh's Award and to the Animal Health Trust". It was also nice to see that Paul Judge, management buyout multimillionaire, backer of the much lamented Management Week magazine and former director- general of the Conservative Party, has finally got his K.

But the sad truth is that an in-depth Bunhill investigation - well, glancing at the New Year honours lists for the past five years - shows the principal qualification for a business knighthood is to run a big company. The half-dozen handed out each time are dominated by the likes of Richard Greenbury of Marks and Sparks, Brian Pearse of Midland Bank, Iain Vallance of BT. Not many of them are even known for giving dosh to the Tories. It's tedious, I know, but your best bet for a gong seems to be to work your way to the top of a multinational. Better start slogging now.

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