David Parkin on the price of failure at Morrisons, no wain in Spain and bachelor padding

David Parkin on the price of failure at Morrisons, no wain in Spain and bachelor padding

DID you see that Dalton Philips walked away from his role as chief executive of Morrisons with pay and bonuses of around £3m? That must have been why he accepted, what looked at the time, to be an ignominious sacking by new chairman Andy Higginson, in January. There was very little self-justification from Philips on his departure. But when your five-year tenure saw a slumping share price, staff morale reach rock bottom and a public slating from former chairman and grocery grandee Sir Ken Morrison, there probably isn’t much you can say in mitigation. Someone told me the other day that Philips probably knew he was going to get the heave-ho sometime ago as he’d apparently moved his children out of private school in York last year. Mind you, I don’t think you had to be a latter-day Doris Stokes to work out that his days were numbered. It reminds me of a story I heard about Kelvin Mackenzie when he was editor of The Sun. He decided to sack the paper’s horoscope writer and called the unfortunate individual into his office. “I suppose you know why you’re here,” said Kelvin. “And if you don’t, that’s why you are here.” It could be an urban myth, but I’d like to believe it. ::: THE passion of the British for Spain doesn’t appear to be on the wain. Every summer – and most other times of the year as well – Brits fly south to where blue skies and warm seas are virtually guaranteed. And despite being only just over two-hours flight time away, heading to the Iberian peninsula during...
David Parkin on annoying Americanisms, turn-off TV and losing out on Twitter

David Parkin on annoying Americanisms, turn-off TV and losing out on Twitter

HAVE a nice day! There was a time when this American phrase used to annoy most Brits. I don’t think it ever caught on and became well used in this country, but it did highlight Americans’ approach to customer service. Given the shoddy approach to service that you get from many people working in retail and hospitality, perhaps we’d welcome hearing more of it. ‘Hi’ has been adopted as a greeting by many over this side of the pond and I’m worried that we might be moving onto its annoying hybrid: ‘Hey’. Watch any American TV programme and this is the greeting that people of all ages tend to use. I don’t understand where it has come from, perhaps it stems from a demand for attention in this increasingly self-obsessed world in which we all live. A friend of mine who is married to an American has started greeting me with the word: ‘Hey’. I’ve decided to ignore him until he cuts this awful word out of his vocabulary. What’s worse is that he has gone from a real Yorkshire greeting of ‘Now then’ to ‘Hey’. And if you eat out within minutes of your food being served you can bet your life (that phrase sounds a bit American) that a member of staff will be over to say: “How is the food, guys.” Guys? I hate it and many of the other Americanisms that have pervaded our language. One phrase I keep hearing on US TV shows is: “We’re done.” It seems to mean can be used in the context of a conversation, a business As a consequence...
David Parkin on spring in LA and election fever

David Parkin on spring in LA and election fever

AS the early morning sun rises majestically over my neighbour’s loft conversion, leaving the wheelie bins dappled in a warm, amber glow, one’s thoughts turn, inevitably to spring. We all have our own favourite ways of celebrating the arrival of this most hopeful of seasons. Whether it is the rows of daffodils in the park, blossom festooned lanes or simply the stunning views on television of the azalea-bordered greens of the Masters golf tournament in Augusta. I love all these sights, but they lead to a longing every spring. Oh, to be in LA now spring is here. Forget the Fall in New England, summer in Cape Cod or winter in the snow-covered mountains of Colorado. In April and May there is only one place in the world I want to be: Los Angeles. Talk to most people and they’ll tell you they either don’t want to bother visiting the sprawling metropolis during a trip to the West Coast of America, or if they have been, they hated it. That’s probably because they’ve done it the wrong way. I made my way to LA for the first time in 1992. A student journalist, I’d written to a man who I thought had the best job in the world. John Hiscock was the West Coast correspondent for the Daily Telegraph and his beat included interviews with Hollywood stars and covering the major boxing title fights in Las Vegas. He gave me the best piece of advice about The City of Angels: stay at the beach. Forget downtown, Disney and Hollywood, base yourself in the seaside town of Santa Monica, said...
Entrepreneurial investors back new travel and events venture

Entrepreneurial investors back new travel and events venture

FORMER business journalist and media entrepreneur David Parkin has launched a new travel and events business called COPA. The new venture, which is based in Leeds, provides bespoke events and travel services to corporates, professional firms and funders across the North of England and in London. Parkin, who was business editor of the Yorkshire Post before launching the UK’s first regional business news website, TheBusinessDesk.com in 2007, has been backed by a number of successful entrepreneurs and investors in the new venture. Well known corporate financier Steve Roberts, co-founder of McInnes Corporate Finance and chairman of AIM quoted group Northern Bear, has invested in COPA and joined the Board in a semi executive capacity. Andrew Dick, co-founder of professional services firm Begbies Traynor has invested in the business alongside Dan Summerfield, former director of challenger bank Aldermore. The investment will be managed by Panacea, an entrepreneurial investment company founded by Roberts and Summerfield which specialises in providing capital and strategic solutions to support and grow SME businesses. COPA has recruited event manager Liz Theakston, who had a successful event management career in London before moving to Yorkshire, and office manager Sue Carpenter who has past experience at several of the leading professional firms in Leeds. David Parkin said: “With the economy continuing to improve, more and more firms want to spend time with key clients and targets. The big question is what will attract the right people and deliver value? “The days of the corporate ‘jolly’ are in the past but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make the time you spend with clients and contacts enjoyable and interesting while also delivering...
David Parkin is intellectually stimulated by The Beano and Neighbours and Masters’ fashion

David Parkin is intellectually stimulated by The Beano and Neighbours and Masters’ fashion

WHAT’S your preferred reading matter when you are sitting in the reception of a large law firm, accountancy firm or bank? I can’t remember the last time I sat down and found a copy of a local or even national newspaper or magazine that looked like it had even been read by one person. They have often got a large screen TV with BBC or Sky news on which tends to attract the attention of visitors. I wonder if you could do a survey on the amount of money spent on untouched reading matter in office receptions? I bet some university researchers have beaten me to it. I got a surprise recently when I went to the offices of a major firm and found a copy of the children’s comic The Beano on every coffee table in their reception area. I found it quite appealing that those at the firm, very serious individuals at the top of their game, had the confidence and sense of humour to put the comic so prominently in their office. I even picked one up and read it for the first time since childhood. Mini the Minx was still there, and of course, dear old Dennis the Menace and Gnasher. And Billy Whizz. I can’t say I haven’t read a comic since schooldays as I was an avid reader of adult comic Viz when I was a student and still laugh at some of its daft, filthy humour when someone drops it into a Facebook post. The Beano’s Loopy Limericks page caught my eye. Here’s one for you: There was was a farmer from...