The business on: John Rishton, chief executive, Rolls-Royce

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The Independent Online

Rolls-Royce rolls on. So happy days for the chief?

John Rishton has reason to be pleased. Rolls, arguably Britain's top manufacturer, yesterday announced three big engine orders. They were from Saudi Arabian Airlines, worth $500m (£313m), Garuda Indonesia Airlines, worth $280m, and Oman Air, value undisclosed but should take the total to well over $1bn. Not a bad day for a chief executive who took charge in April.

Should keep the doubters quiet for a while?

You'd think so. Mr Rishton's sainted predecessor Sir John Rose very much did it his way but produced year after year of outstanding results while becoming one of Britain's most powerful advocates for manufacturing. There are commentators who have wondered whether Mr Rishton, as a sort of outsider, will be able to do the same.

So a tough act to follow?

Very. Mr Rishton wouldn't have been among the bookies' favourites (BP executive Iain Conn was thought to top the list) but Rolls isn't the type to make mistakes. When it does (as when a problem with one of its engines saw a Qantas jet forced to land early) it acts quickly. Mr Rishton is a chartered accountant who nonetheless knows how to get down and dirty in business, as he did shaking up Royal Ahold.

Royal Ahold? What do you mean "sort of" outsider?

Well, Mr Rishton had been a non-executive director at Rolls since 2007, but his main job was being boss of Royal Ahold, the Dutch retailer. However, he'd previously worked at British Airways (one of Rolls' biggest clients) as its finance chief and he started his career in industry at Ford.

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