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You can't report quicker than a Kwik-Fit board

People & Business
Tom Farmer, chairman of Kwik-Fit, has always prided himself on getting the motor repair group's results announced as quickly as possible after the year-end.

This year, sadly, wasn't a record - Kwik-Fit's year-end came on 28 February, while the results came out only yesterday.

To make up for this uncharacteristic sluggishness, he published the annual report on the same day yesterday, a relatively rare feat.

Mr Farmer said proudly: "We managed it through a lot of hard work, effort, and good organisation due to our people in Edinburgh, and the support of our friends in Arthur Andersen."

Perhaps the company should change its advertising jingle to: "You can't get quicker than a Kwik-Fit annual report."

The irrepressible Mr Farmer is a 95 per cent share holder in Hibernian FC. When asked whether he might use the trademark three leaping men in blue boiler suits to liven things on the touchline at Hibs, he laughed and said: "I wouldn't rule it out."

Lord Archer hosted a combined whisky tasting and cartoon auction yesterday at the Clothworkers' Hall in the City, accompanied by the Lord Mayor of London, Alderman Roger Cork.

Around 150 City bods paid pounds 40 a head to attend the bash, held to raise funds for the Cancer Research Campaign, which spends pounds 47m a year on research in the UK.

Lord Archer had just completed a tour of Scottish constituencies, banging the drum for the Tories north of the border. As he welcomed the guests he remarked: "I haven't been in a single room with so many people in it for a long time."

The venture capital group 3i has appointed Michael Queen as finance director in succession to Brian Larcombe, who has moved up to chief executive.

Mr Queen, a 35-year-old squash player and swimmer who enjoys an occasional strum on the classical guitar, has been with 3i since 1987, latterly as group financial controller. He was brought up on south Humberside and has a degree in Industrial Economics from the University of Nottingham. He qualified as an accountant with Coopers & Lybrand.

For two years to 1996, Mr Queen was seconded to the Treasury to be Ken Clarke's adviser on the fledgling private finance initiative. During that time he headed up the NHS private finance unit, a political hot potato if there ever was one. He also had a poke around education during his stint in Whitehall.

A 60-year-old barrister, Kenneth Rokison QC, is off on a 500km sponsored bike ride along the banks of the Nile in aid of Mencap. This will be hot work for the leading silk - the temperature there reaches around 30 degrees.

The six-day trip begins this Saturday and is part of an expedition by 120 cyclists who will pedal from Luxor to Aswan, across the dam there to the other side of the Nile, and then return to Luxor.

Mr Rokison, head of Chambers at the commercial set 20 Essex Street in London, will be joined by His Honourable Judge Tony Hallgarten, who sits in the Inner London Commercial court.

Mr Rokison is no stranger to adventure. He has completed two Himalayan treks in the past three years, and while at Cambridge, he canoed from the Cam to Malta.

He says: "I've been training in the Surrey Hills, whose undulations, I hope, will prove to be more demanding than the flatter banks of the Nile." Thoughtfully, he adds: "I will be taking my own saddle."

Robin Hardy, construction analyst at Panmure Gordon, is proving elusive. On ringing his number yesterday, all my colleague was met with was Mr Hardy's voice mail, which played a seemingly endless version of the French folk song Frere Jacques, with no space for a message. Obviously, for Mr Hardy it's a case of "Dormez vous?"