Obituary: Sir Alex Page

Alexander Warren Page, businessman: born 1 July 1914; MBE 1943; Metal Box Co Ltd 1936, Sales Director 1957, Managing Director 1966, Deputy Chairman 1969, Chief Executive 1970-77, Chairman 1970-79; Kt 1977; Chairman, Electrolux 1978-82, GT Pension Services 1981-85, Paine & Co 1981-87, PFC International Portfolio Fund 1985-93; married 1940 Anne Hickman (two sons, one daughter; marriage dissolved), 1981 Mrs Andrea Wharton (two stepdaughters); died 7 May 1993.

ALEX PAGE, former Chairman of Metal Box, was a man of practical common sense and great determination who made the most of his life and his abilities. He grew up a competitive sportsman, rose to champion one of the largest companies in Europe for nearly a decade, and retired to care for his farm and woodlands.

Page was born in 1914 and was brought up in Surbiton, Surrey, the son of a patent agent. He was educated at Tonbridge School and Clare College, Cambridge, where he finished with a degree in engineering and a half Blue for tennis. He was a keen tennis player and competed in junior Wimbledon three times before the Second World War, once reaching as far as the semi-finals.

On coming down from Cambridge in 1936, he joined Metal Box as one of their first graduate trainees. Considering his Cambridge degree in engineering, he was naturally assigned to the sales department - his social skills being more valuable than the technical. He would have accepted the judgement, for he always believed that academic qualifications were of lesser importance in assessing people. Indeed it was in sales that Page'sstrengths lay. His good-natured ease with people and his sincere interest in others, his ability to listen and give his undivided attention, his sense of humour and modesty, endeared him to his customers as well as his colleagues.

During the war Page served with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. He fought in the follow-up to the D-Day landings in the North West Europe campaign. Even though he did not feel he was cut out to be a soldier, he rose from sapper to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He was appointed MBE in 1943 and was mentioned in dispatches.

After the war, Page returned to Metal Box, as assistant to the general sales manager. He was promoted rapidly, being appointed to run a division in 1949, to the position of group sales director in 1957 and managing director in 1966.

Page made a great contribution to the growth of Metal Box after the war. The company's production of open- top cans rose from 50 million a year when he joined in 1936 to six billion a year when he took over as chairman in 1970. Under his chairmanship the business expanded world-wide, in the height of its expansion opening a new factory every year. In an era that favoured diversification, he broadened the activities of the company, reduced its dependence on tin cans and protected it from the growing threat from US manufacturers. He took it into central heating, bathroom equipment and cheque printing. When Page stood down as Chairman in 1979, the sales of the business for the first time exceeded pounds 1 billion.

He used to say that if he had not gone into business (and had had sufficient capital), he would have been a farmer. On his retirement, as well as serving a number of companies as director, he set up a small farm at home, built a poll barn with his own hands and fattened his bullocks the year round.

Alex Page was always happy to be with young people, and it was striking that the throng of close friends at his final ceremony was full of young people as much struck by his loss as were his contemporaries. My own acquaintance with him stems from family holidays from my earliest years. I see him in the quiet evening sunshine of France busying himself preparing chairs and drinks in preparation for the obligatory chatty hour.

His funeral service was held on a fine English spring day at Dunsfold where he had lived for many years, in the church beside a yew tree 15 centuries old.

(Photograph omitted)

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Assistant / Human Resources Assistant

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: An HR Assistant / Human Resources Ass...

Talent Community Coordinator

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Talent Community Coordinator is nee...

Business Support - Banking - Halifax - £250 pd

£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform