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)

ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

HR Manager - HR Generalist / Sole in HR

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - HR Generalis...

Business Analyst - Banking - London - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Banking - People Change - Lond...

HR Manager - Milton Keynes - £50,000 + package

£48000 - £50000 per annum + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Shared...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape