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)

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?