David Parkin hears some great stories and finds the Greatest Showman

David Parkin hears some great stories and finds the Greatest Showman

I WANNA tell you a story. Readers of a certain vintage will recognise this catchphrase of crooner and TV game show host Max Bygraves. Although apparently Singalongamax claimed it was apocryphal and was made up by impressionist Mike Yarwood. Whether it was true for Max Bygraves, it is certainly right for both businesses and individuals today. If you can articulate your story in a way that is engaging, interesting and memorable, then that gives you an advantage. We all grew up listening to stories and even today, you tend to remember information if it is delivered in the form of a story. Storytelling was the one of the themes of the annual conference we organised for fast-growing wealth management and legal group Progeny last week. The phrase ‘fast-growing’ is often used but not always correct. Given Progeny completed one acquisition the evening before their conference and another on the morning of the event, I think it applies in this case. With its main offices in Leeds and London, the group is creating a national footprint. The conference was held at the head office of Dimensional Fund Advisors in London. The presentation space resembled the United Nations or European Parliament, but I’m sure Progeny achieved more in a day than those two organisations. Given the subject was storytelling, I got author Scott Allen to come and speak. He has written two children’s books called Llamas United and Llamas Go Large about a team of footballing camelids who enter the cup and then head to the World Cup. Straight from a two-day tour of London primary schools, Scott brought his llamas...
David Parkin says blame incompetence not the internet for newspapers’ problems

David Parkin says blame incompetence not the internet for newspapers’ problems

JOHNSTON Press, one of the largest newspaper groups in Britain with a stable of 200 titles including the Yorkshire Post, Scotsman and national daily the i, went into administration last week. The management of the business will give you two reasons for why that happened – Google and Facebook. In my opinion the reasons are a lot older than an internet search engine and a social media platform. It is simply down to greed and incompetence. How can you stand still as a business, fail to embrace a strategy for the future and then blame those that have innovated and been entrepreneurial for your demise? The sad thing is, it was all so predictable. Saddled with £220m of debt which needed repaying by next summer, Johnston Press, whose stock market value had plunged to just £3m, had been vainly searching for buyers for its titles. It quickly realised it would never raise enough from the sale of its once prized assets to pay back the US-based hedge fund Goldentree Asset Management which effectively had a vice-like grip on its short and curlies. So late last Friday afternoon it announced it was entering into a pre-pack administration deal and by Monday morning a new business emerged called JPI Media which was now owned by the US bondholders who in return had ditched £135m of the debt, extended the deadline for the repayment of the remaining £85m until December 2023 and pumped £35m of extra funding into the business. All sorted. Lovely jubbly. Of course shareholders got nothing. But then, if, like me, you once held shares in JP and had...
David Parkin takes in the corridors of power, enjoys Arnold’s and gets an indecent proposal

David Parkin takes in the corridors of power, enjoys Arnold’s and gets an indecent proposal

EVEN before yesterday’s dramatic Brexit-related developments in Parliament, there was a slightly feverish feel to the corridors of power at Westminster. You could sense it on Tuesday when I attended the annual Yorkshire and the Humber MP Reception organised by the CBI and Barclays in the Churchill Room at the House of Commons. Given Theresa May was poised to announce her Brexit withdrawal deal, most MPs were at Westminster this week and business people from the region expected to see a bumper turnout at Tuesday’s panel discussion and drinks reception. More than 20 MPs from the region were listed as attending the event but not that many turned up, which, given fast moving situation, was probably not a surprise. We heard from the impressive Rachel Reeves, whose presence on the back benches with Hilary Benn among others are Labour’s loss. She was joined on the panel by Dan Jarvis, who is Labour MP for Barnsley Central and the Mayor of Sheffield City Region and Conservative MP for Shipley, Philip Davies. Harrogate MP Andrew Jones was due to take part but had just been promoted to the recently resigned Jo Johnson’s job. In stepped Martin Vickers, Tory MP for Cleethorpes, who gave an erudite overview of the complexities of the Greater Grimsby Town Plan. Bollards. As the panel discussion came to a close, Beckie Hart, regional director of the CBI in Yorkshire, made her way over to where I was sitting and presented me with a packet of Ryvita complete with the use by date crossed out and “Out of date” scribbled next to it. This clearly was a response...
David Parkin on hard work, wine, Dakota dining and Persimmon pandemonium

David Parkin on hard work, wine, Dakota dining and Persimmon pandemonium

SOMETIMES work just doesn’t seem like work. I’m currently writing a blog about wine for a client and met up with Adam Ketteringham of Corney & Barrow, the 230-year-old wine merchant which holds Royal Warrants as wine supplier to the Queen and the Prince of Wales. Adam, who used to be a restaurateur and has a wealth of knowledge about wine, kindly invited me to join him at a Meet the Winemaker Dinner with Californian producer Cakebread Cellars at The Pheasant Hotel in Harome in North Yorkshire. Well, there’s worse things to do on a Tuesday evening in November. And I was intrigued to meet exotically-named winemaker Bruce Cakebread. I’ve only ever visited Andrew Pern’s Michelin-starred restaurant The Star at Harome once and had heard great things about The Pheasant, just down the road in the picturesque village near the market town of Helmsley. Opened several years ago by Andrew Pern and his wife Jacquie, following the couple’s divorce the Pheasant is now run by her and chef Peter Neville. Overlooking the village duckpond, The Pheasant is a warm and welcoming destination – especially with Bruce’s wines laid out in the candlelit conservatory. Cakebread Cellars was launched in the early 1970s when Bruce’s parents, Jack and Dolores Cakebread bought a small ranch in Napa Valley, California and planted some vines. With 40-odd harvests now under their belt, the couple’s sons Bruce and Dennis now run the winery and Cakebread wine is one of the most successful in America and exports its vino across the world. Jack Cakebread is now Chairman Emeritus of the family wine business while his wife...
David Parkin on knockout screen success from Leeds and party pooping

David Parkin on knockout screen success from Leeds and party pooping

A COUPLE of years ago my old chairman from TheBusinessDesk.com, Chris Jones, introduced me to a talented filmmaker called Nick Ryle who was seeking funding for his next project. On the back of producing the critically acclaimed film ‘Being AP’, a fly-on-the-wall documentary about legendary jump jockey Sir Tony McCoy, Nick and his colleagues from Moneyglass Films wanted to tell another story about a remarkable sportsman. They had agreed unprecedented access to Leeds-born featherweight boxing contender Josh Warrington and wanted to produce a film following his progress to a potential world title fight in his home city. Nick told me that ‘Fighting For A City’ would contrast the fortunes of Leeds United fan Warrington with the challenges faced by his football team in recent years and the gritty reality of the inner city estates often hidden by the shiny success of a fast growing northern city. As a journalist I loved the story and the contrasts it presented and Nick outlined how the film would culminate with Josh winning the world title in front of 20,000 of his adoring supporters on the pitch at Elland Road. It sounded great and I said I would speak to some contacts who might be interested in investing in the film. While ‘Being AP’ has been broadcast on mainstream terrestrial TV, these days film makers are looking to get their features on platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime as well as lucrative placements as in-flight entertainment on aeroplanes. The potential investors I spoke to agreed it was a great story but they pointed out that Warrington was unlikely to win a world title...