David Parkin mixes business with beer and gives Ant and Dec a run for their money

David Parkin mixes business with beer and gives Ant and Dec a run for their money

THE two places where the most business seems to get done these days are coffee shops and beer festivals. Nothing surprising about the former – merchants, financiers and entrepreneurs have been meeting in coffee houses for centuries. Forget the recent proliferation of Starbucks and Costa, the real coffee revolution was in the late 1600s when as many as 3,000 coffee houses “played host to caffeine-fuelled debate, wheeler-dealing and gossip-mongering on London’s streets” according to a history of the capital. It didn’t take long for intellectuals, professionals and merchants to throng to such venues to debate, distribute pamphlets, do deals, smoke clay pipes and, consume a drink said to resemble “syrup of soot and essence of old shoes”. I’ve yet to spot an intellectual in Patisserie Valerie on St Paul’s Street in Leeds but if you pop across the road to Starbucks then its Pike Place Roast filter coffee tastes like the drink described above. But if you aren’t in the mood for a coffee or you are meeting later in the day then how does a beer festival tickle your fancy? More and more firms are taking corporate sponsorships at such events and they tend to get a good turn out from their invitee list. I’ve never been, but Ilkley Beer Festival’s Friday afternoon corporate opening is always popular among business people and professionals. Probably too popular: I tried to make conversation with one attendee after he had returned to Leeds from Ilkley to top up his alcohol levels at Restaurant Bar & Grill. I couldn’t make out much of what he said, just the swear words, before he...
David Parkin on brassneck in business, mayors and monkeys and raising the stakes to find a ladies day winner

David Parkin on brassneck in business, mayors and monkeys and raising the stakes to find a ladies day winner

THERE are plenty of successful entrepreneurs with brass in Yorkshire…and then there are those with just brassneck. A press release was issued this week announcing that Yorkshire entrepreneur Matt Haycox has signed a publishing deal to co-author a new book revealing the secrets of success in life and business. Also involved in the book is Jack Canfield, the American author whose Chicken Soup For The Soul series has seen 500m books published in 40 languages. Given the publisher of this new book called Soul of Success is called CelebrityPress, I assume it is some kind of vanity publishing scheme for many of those involved. The press release tells us breathlessly that Matt is a “driven and well connected entrepreneur, who is proud of pushing boundaries to achieve his business goals”. From setting up a music website and running a clothing company at 20-years-old, to opening pubs and the Wildcats lap dancing chain, Matt has also set up a brokerage and private lending firm and, according to the press release, at 27 he was the largest single shareholder and director of a plc listed finance company. And while the press release does mention the collapse of Wildcats and some of his other businesses it moves quickly on to say he has “worked hard to overcome the setbacks and re-establish himself in the entrepreneurial arena”. What it doesn’t mention is that in 2010 he was disqualified from being a company director for 12 years following an investigation by the Insolvency Service. The Insolvency Service found that Mr Haycox entered into trading transactions knowing his company was insolvent and could not pay...
David Parkin on the last stop for the Northern Powerhouse, Dr Who meets Lord of the Rings and pancake problems

David Parkin on the last stop for the Northern Powerhouse, Dr Who meets Lord of the Rings and pancake problems

GOVERNMENT minister James Wharton was in Leeds last week to give a short speech on how the city’s financial services sector can be promoted as part of the Government’s much-vaunted Northern Powerhouse initiative. Apparently he was delayed arriving at the event because his train was late. You couldn’t make it up. If that doesn’t underline what really needs to be done to boost the economy in the North, then I don’t know what does. Sending a Tory chinless wonder to preach the gospel on how this region can sell itself better to the UK and abroad alongside other financial hotbeds like Poole and Portsmouth is not going to soothe restless natives who want to see whether this Northern Powerhouse idea is the real deal or just politicians’ hot air. On the back of James Wharton’s words, I’d say the Government has plenty to do to convince business people in the North that it is actually bothered about boosting the economy north of Chesterfield. Wharton might glory in the title of Northern Powerhouse minister, but he sounded like any other politician from any part of the political spectrum: this is what you need to do, go off and do it and here’s a nice pat on the head for you. I’ve yet to hear a politician really articulate what this so-called Northern Powerhouse is all about. And what are they going to do to help? Don’t give me the old flannel about us having to help ourselves in the North. We’ve been doing it for years while successive governments ploughed billions into transport initiatives in London and the South East...
David Parkin on a sporting challenge at the darts, Dry January and why Harrogate is classier than TOWIE

David Parkin on a sporting challenge at the darts, Dry January and why Harrogate is classier than TOWIE

IT was only when Yogi Bear and Booboo, two Andy Pandys and a woman dressed as Super Mario walked passed me that it really sank in that I was at one of the great British sporting occasions – the darts. The first direct Leeds Arena hosted the first stage of Premier League Darts last night in front of more than 10,000 people and plenty more watching it live on Sky Sports. I’d heard about the phenomena that is “the darts” before. So when an invitation arrived from Rob Cowling at Irwin Mitchell, I was happy to accept and tick off another of those great global occasions from my sporting bucket list. Also on the list is the Melbourne Gold Cup, the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe and a world heavyweight boxing match in Las Vegas – but you’ve got to start somewhere. Several members of the Yorkshire dealmaking community swear by an annual trip to see it in Blackpool. When I asked one what it would be like inside the arena, he said: “Think of a Wetherspoons with 10,000 people inside it.” He wasn’t wrong. Even though the world’s best players are performing on the oche, your eye is drawn to activity in the audience – or perhaps crowd is a better word. I’d expect queues for the bars and the toilets, but I’d never seen a huge queue for the smoking area before. The football chants were of course mainly of the Leeds United variety, with a sprinkling of “Stand Up If You Hate Man U” thrown in. I asked David Cowgill, an Irwin Mitchell real estate lawyer...