IT’S a good job Marks and Spencer boss Sir Stuart Rose can look forward to updating the market later today on his firm’s encouraging trading over Christmas, since The Capitalist can reveal he’s about to suffer a disappointment in the style stakes.
Rose, you see, has a reputation in the City for being one of the most dapper chaps around and is usually a safe bet on any roster of the UK’s most elegant gentlemen (which can come in quite handy as a form of brand advertising, since he’s always impeccably dressed in carefully selected M&S togs). Until this year, that is, when he’s probably quite horrified to have been left off GQ magazine’s annual best-dressed list – which this year featured the likes of hedgie philanthropist Arki Busson and Tory leader David Cameron.
At least Sir Stuart can console himself with the knowledge that he still escapes by a wide berth the annual list of the worst sartorial offenders, which this year appears to have been reserved for the scruffiest of the world’s beleaguered politicians. Flaxen-haired London Mayor Boris Johnson made the cut, as did diminutive French premier Nicholas Sarkozy and, of course, our very own Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
CREAM OF THE CROP
Interesting to see “City superwoman” Nicola Horlick’s Bramdean Asset Management website is back up and running, after a short amount of downtime following Aberdeen Asset Management grabbing the management contract for the Bramdean Alternatives fund in November.
And what does the new site look like? Well, it’s rather threadbare in substance – which Horlick’s spinner explains is because the firm will be “a lot quieter” from now on. I’ll say – the only investment mandate in evidence at the moment is a new fund focusing on Brazilian farmland, of all things.
You’d have thought City businessman Charlie Pitcher (right), who usually spends his days running high-end refurbishment company CP Refurbishment, would have had enough of noble deeds for the time being, having completed the notoriously gruelling Marathon des Sables just last year. (The event is a six-day, 151 mile race through the sand dunes of the Sahara Desert, in baking temperatures of up to 50 degrees Celsius, known as the “toughest footrace on Earth”, so it’s hardly for the faint hearted.)
But I hear Pitcher’s now officially begun his second hare-brained escapade in less than 12 months, having set off on Monday in a quest to row single-handedly across the Atlantic Ocean, to raise money for the renal unit at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.
This feat, which will take him the best part of two months to complete, involves being completely alone at sea, facing salt sores, sleep deprivation, a diet of dehydrated spag bol and scrambled eggs, and 30ft waves which will capsize the boat a couple of times a day.
The lengths some people will go to for a good cause, eh?
Only three weeks to go now until accountancy giant PricewaterhouseCoopers’ annual Christmas panto, and I hear rehearsals are well underway.
This year, the production is Snow White, and will run from 25-30 January, playing to over 6,000 disadvantaged children in London and Belfast.
The main role is played by Niamh Anderson in the firm’s audit technical practice, with four of her unlucky seven dwarves having to do the entire show on their knees.
But of course, no panto is ever complete without a cross-dressing dame, and the game gent getting the cheers this year will be PwC alumnus Matt Scott – a former stamp duty expert at the firm – who will be donning the customary tights, sparkly dresses and a Dolly Parton costume. Utterly ravishing, I’m sure.
MUSIC TO OUR EARS
Speaking of light entertainment, music fans are going to have a lot to thank the City of London Corporation for over the next few months, as it hosts a series of free lunchtime concerts to mark the annual City of London festival.
All concerts run for less than an hour between 1 and 2pm, so they’re perfect for a bit of bite-sized entertainment.
And what’s more, they feature everything from piano recitals to jazz singers, folk music and full orchestral pieces, so there’s something there for everyone. Visit the website at www.colf.org for details.
UP AND COMING
Telecoms giant BT has been doing its bit to promote budding UK business recently, having just concluded its competition to find 20 smaller companies worthy of an award for their entrepreneurial spirit.
The winners, judged by a panel including Dragon Peter Jones, include such diverse businesses as Sara Murray’s Buddi, which makes tiny GPS personal trackers to keep tabs on kids; fruit supplier Daniel Ox, who runs Fruit for the Office; a tiny knitting shop nestled in the heart of London’s Islington; and Bompass and Parr, which creates fine English jellies, designs weird and wacky jelly moulds, and throws lavish culinary parties centred around the wibbly stuff.
Who said entrepreneurialism in this country had been trodden down by the recession?