David Parkin on banking on Steve Cram and a night with a Blue Nun in Frankfurt

David Parkin on banking on Steve Cram and a night with a Blue Nun in Frankfurt

WHEN it comes to great British athletes, after Sebastian Coe (he’s a bit busy at the moment), they don’t come much bigger than Steve Cram. So I was delighted to get the news that the Olympic runner turner top TV commentator has agreed to take part in this year’s Lord’s Taverners Balloon Debate on the eve of the Headingley Test Match on May 18. And I have David Maybury, head of business and private banking for Yorkshire Bank in Leeds and his colleagues to thank for delivering this big name to our balloon basket. Steve is an ambassador to the bank and it has signed up to support the event we are organising at the Queens Hotel. We are close to securing some equally impressive individuals to join him in the balloon so if you fancy joining us for what is one of the most unusual and fun charity events in the Yorkshire business calendar then just reply to this email. Tables of 10 are £795. I caught up with David Maybury and his team at the launch this week of Yorkshire Bank’s new Leeds Business and Private Banking Centre on Briggate. Just up the paved shopping street from Harvey Nichols and the Victoria Quarter, the banking centre is based in a historic building but inside is as modern as they come. It was fitting that Yorkshire knight Sir Gary Verity was there to officially open the new base. As the man who delivered the Tour de France Grand Depart to Yorkshire and then the Tour de Yorkshire, he said it was great to see a thriving Yorkshire Bank....
David Parkin on eccentricity and bitterness and looking forward to a legal high

David Parkin on eccentricity and bitterness and looking forward to a legal high

YORKSHIRE used to pride itself on being the global capital for eccentrics. I’ve been so worried that the bragging rights on bonkers people may be slipping away from this region that I’ve been doing an informal survey of existing and some new eccentrics in these parts. There’s the tramp that plays a penny whistle and does the odd dance in City Square, Leeds. I think “playing” the penny whistle is a trifle generous; he just seems to blow down it and is pleased at any sound that comes out. At the other end of the sartorial scale is Yorkshire tailor James Michelsberg who I spotted striding through Leeds the other morning in velvet collared overcoat, a striking fedora and a tightly furled umbrella. He was on his mobile phone so I didn’t interrupt, but I was impressed by the swagger of this modern day boulevardier. In an age when the majority plump for open necked shirts, jeans and anoraks, it is nice to see someone who dresses for the occasion. And it is also a great advert for his business. Then there’s Eric the Yorkshire Evening Post seller. Strictly speaking Eric doesn’t sell the YEP, he spent 43 years in the distribution department at the paper and its sister title the Yorkshire Post and spent so much time at work it was always rumoured he lived in the bowels of the old Wellington Street concrete bunker. Then he was made redundant, like many other loyal and hardworking people at newspapers across the country run by management whose only perceivable strategy to try to staunch plummeting sales and advertising revenues...
David Parkin on the scrabble for YABL, an English rugby winner and chatting with Yoda

David Parkin on the scrabble for YABL, an English rugby winner and chatting with Yoda

THERE aren’t many corporate dinners in the business calendar that you look forward to going to. Getting an invite to the Leeds Law Society annual dinner or a do for members of the ICAEW (it’s for accountants, but these days it is terribly unfashionable for an organisation to explain what the initials stand for) is a bit like being invited to walk the plank by Blackbeard. Fortunately the one black tie event I do look forward to is the Yorkshire Asset Based Lending Dinner. This annual knees up for the North’s leading financiers does two things most business dinners don’t: it raises a serious amount of money for charity and it always has good speakers. How many corporate events can say that? The event was conceived and is run by the force of nature that is Chris Silverwood of Ethos Corporate Finance. The only difference is this year, we’re helping him organise it. The event, sponsored by Ultimate Finance, has raised tens of thousands of pounds for for various charities over the past four years and become a popular and established fixture in the corporate event calendar as it does not feature a lengthy awards ceremony or speeches and focuses on encouraging the asset based lending community to meet and enjoy a fun evening doing business and raising money for charity. And so it is now down to me to come up with the entertainment for the evening as well as compere the lively audience of lenders, bankers, corporate financiers and other professionals (they don’t turn into a rabble until later in the evening). Last year’s event was a...
David Parkin on top spot at Marks and Spencer and a non-existent New Year

David Parkin on top spot at Marks and Spencer and a non-existent New Year

MARKS and Spencer insists that the decision of chief executive Marc Bolland to “retire” in April is not linked to the fall in clothing sales that was also announced yesterday. It probably wasn’t. A man doesn’t leave just because sales of general merchandise (mainly clothes) were down by 5.8% over the three months up to Christmas. It was more likely the fact that in his six years in the role, since jumping ship from Morrisons, Bolland has failed to turn around the fortunes of a business that was once king of the High Street and the only place we all bought our smalls from. Yes he can point to the excellent performance of its food sales, which clocked up record numbers during Christmas week. But while its sales of food are now £5bn and bigger than general merchandise which is just over £4bn, Marks and Sparks needs to get its clothing sales right for its core shoppers who are women aged 60-plus. But what it has done is impress the fashion writers with suede jackets and other trendy gear aimed at an age group that rarely ventures through its doors. And then their mums then started shopping elsewhere too. Dutchman Bolland attracted the ire of Sir Ken Morrison when he abruptly left the Bradford-based supermarket group after three years as CEO to head for M&S’s Baker Street HQ. Apparently Sir Ken described him as “no retailer”, although that was probably mild compared to the insults the retail veteran reserved for Bolland’s successor Dalton Philips. I’d heard stories about Bolland being arrogant and aloof while at Morrisons and was interested...