Business world wins praise in the honours list

CARPHONE Warehouse founder Charles Dunstone was the sole business leader awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s birthday honours for 2012, announced over the weekend, in a year that saw industry and economic leaders garner just 12 per cent of accolades, down more than a full percentage point from 2011.

However, Sir John Parker, chairman of mining giant Anglo American, added a few initials to his existing knighthood, acceding to Knight Grand Cross (GBE), the highest honour bestowed on a civilian.

Despite a tough year for the UK high street, retail bosses were also well represented on the honours list. Lucy Neville-Rolfe, deputy chair of the British Retail Consortium and corporate affairs director at Tesco, became a dame, while creative director at Mulberry, Emma Hill, earned a CBE.

The co-founder of Coffee Republic, Sahar Hashemi, rounded out the list of businesswomen honoured.

Despite a few high profile names making the cut, City veterans were rather sparsely represented on the 2012 list. Keith Hamill, chairman of broker Tullett Prebon and former finance director of WH Smith gained an OBE and Brian Winterflood, head of the eponymous securities firm, earned an MBE. Stuart Fraser, outgoing policy chief for the City of London, was awarded a CBE for services to the Square Mile, and ex-Deloitte senior partner and FSA non-exec Brian Pomeroy was knighted.

In the industrial sector, Dr Peter Bonfield, chief executive of engineering group BRE, earned an OBE.

Representing the media industry, Welshman Ron Jones, whose production company Tinopolis accounts for a significant portion of UK television programming, including the BBC’s Question Time, earned a CBE, as did Warner Bros’ UK head Josh Berger.

THE words “Arise, Sir Charlie” may fall awkwardly on the ears of an entrepreneur nearly as well known for his man of the people management style as for his astounding personal wealth (estimated at approximately £830m). Through his 11 years as chief executive of the world’s largest independent communications retailer Carphone Warehouse, Dunstone put in his fair share of shifts on the shop floor.

He may have started CPW from his London flat, on seed money of just £6,000, but the yacht-loving Dunstone isn’t quite a rags-to-riches story. His father was an executive at BP, who sent the budding entrepreneur to the independent Uppingham School. Dunstone later abandoned a business degree course at Liverpool University.

Since taking over the chair of CPW in 2010, Dunstone has immersed himself in charity work, sitting on the council of the Prince’s Trust.

His own charitable trust supports a Lancashire academy.

As Tesco negotiates the unfamiliar world of falling sales figures, the retailing giant can scarcely afford to lose one of its safest hands at the tiller. Yet Lucy Neville-Rolfe, group legal and corporate affairs director, will leave the board early next year when she reaches the retirement age of 60.

A former civil servant, Dame Lucy (as she will now be known) used her political nous to steer Tesco successfully through three separate Competition Commission inquiries. A prodigy of former chief executive Sir Terry Leahy, she shares his work ethic and desire to engage in every level of Tesco’s business. Also like Leahy, she has publicly criticised the British education system for producing poorly-skilled and ill-disciplined school leavers.

What greater compliment to Dame Lucy than Tesco’s acknowledgement that her role
will be split into two when she leaves the firm in 2013?