David Parkin on the rich list, looking at birds and critical feedback

David Parkin on the rich list, looking at birds and critical feedback

GLANCING at Insider magazine’s recently published Yorkshire Rich List I wasn’t surprised to see that there is no change at the summit for the umpteenth year. Brothers Malcolm and Eddie Healey once again top the table, with a combined fortune of £1.65bn. Malcolm Healey’s York-based West Retail Group includes Wren Kitchens and the electronics retailer Ebuyer. Sibling Eddie is best known for the Meadowhall shopping centre, which he developed alongside Paul Sykes. To my knowledge the brothers don’t work closely together and are not siamese twins. So why lump them together in the rich list? Surely they deserve to be listed separately. Although I’m sure they would rather not be named on the rich list. Any genuine tycoon worth their salt hates being included in such a register. Whereas I’ve heard tell that some nouveau riche flashy upstarts actually campaign to be included. ::: DESPERATE to keep people busy on its platform, Linkedin giddily tells its users whenever any of their connections have a birthday, work anniversary or have been mentioned in the news. We slightly tweaked the name of our business a year ago and so it prompted a flurry of congratulations. Among the clutch of: “Congrats on your work anniversary” messages, one in particular stood out. It was from someone I’m apparently connected to in Germany. “Gratuliere zum Firmenjubiläum!” he joyfully proclaimed. I clicked on his profile to try and find out more about my well wisher. “Geschäftsführer und Vertrieb bei Saar Lagertechnik GmbH “Lagern und Fördern in ALLEN Dimensionen”​. Gesundheit. ::: I PAID tribute to my late father in last week’s blog. At the time I...
David Parkin on a funny old week

David Parkin on a funny old week

IT’S been a funny old week. That was one of my Dad’s regular expressions and given he died on Sunday, I think he’d agree. Some people choose sports people as their heroes, some choose leaders of nations, for me it was my father. He inspired me to go into journalism and certainly has to take a fair share of the blame for my taste in films, music, books and clothes. And my sense of humour. When I was younger and my parents attempted to discuss a future when they weren’t here I would not want to consider it. Now I have to face up to that reality with my Dad gone. That’s my parents with me just after I was born. My girlfriend says I still sleep like that. At times like this some people try to offer comfort by saying “they were a good age” or had “a good innings”. But for those left behind the time you had with them was never enough. Dad had a bleed on the brain five-and-a-half years ago which, very like a stroke, severely affected his ability to speak and walk. That alone was enough but the doctors told us about a catalogue of other health issues and how he lived so long was testament to his strength and spirit – and unbelievably devoted care from my Mum. Leslie Charles Parkin, better known as Les, was born in Cardiff before the Second World War (he didn’t like his age being disclosed so I won’t start now) and his brother Jack, who was considerably older, joined the army at the outbreak of the war...
David Parkin on more Ivy experiences, joining the culture club and being James Bond

David Parkin on more Ivy experiences, joining the culture club and being James Bond

REGULAR readers will know of my frequent visits to Hull and my enthusiasm for this historic and welcoming East Yorkshire city. It has seen me invited to take part in an annual pageant celebrating the culture and rich history of Hull. It involves a group of Hull businessmen, led by Shaun Watts of Chameleon Business Interiors, inviting guests from outside the city to spend a day touring Kingston-upon-Hull. However some people have failed to grasp the significance and majesty of such an event because when I explained the format to them they described it as a “glorified pub crawl”. Heathens. When we met for breakfast at Thieving Harry’s on Humber Street, overlooking Hull Marina a couple of Fridays ago, we were met by local historian Robb Robinson – who joined us before he heads off for the Caribbean where he lectures on cruise ships over the winter. We then set off around the marina, through the Old Town before getting a rare tour of Trinity House, a seafaring organisation dating from 1369 which includes a charity for seafarers, a school and a guild of mariners. Similar to the tradesmen’s guilds in the City of London, Trinity House has an incredible collection of artwork and other items showcasing Hull’s maritime history, from harpoons used by its once huge whaling fleet to drawings from Captain Cook’s expedition to discover Australia – as well as his original rifle. We we taken round by Captain Charles Anderson, a Hull seafarer who became the captain of a cruise ship. The 86-year-old was a fount of knowledge and has written a book about his career....
David Parkin on Ivy reaction, Rhode Island reading and surreal celebs

David Parkin on Ivy reaction, Rhode Island reading and surreal celebs

WHEN I wrote about a recent experience at the Ivy restaurant in Harrogate last week I have to say I didn’t expect it to get the reaction it did. The blog has been read by more than 5,100 people so far and attracted 73 comments and over 250 likes on Linkedin. That is in addition to numerous phone calls, texts and emails I’ve received, mainly from people who have had a similar experience to mine. Clearly the service I received wasn’t an isolated occurrence. Whether it is confined to the Harrogate restaurant I don’t know. But several people were keen to highlight the positive experiences they have had in other Ivys in Birmingham, Norwich, Richmond, St Albans and York, which perhaps suggests it is. Certainly that was the message from Laura Bamber, Operations Manager at The Ivy Collection, who read the blog and called me yesterday to apologise. Laura was polite and apologetic and keen to hear my observations about the Harrogate experience. She said that clearly The Ivy had failed on this occasion and accepted that given other people’s comments, it wasn’t just a one-off cock up and the restaurant will provide more training for staff. I said that whatever training is done, it doesn’t remove the challenge of having a small lobby entrance in which visitors are made to wait and wonder if they will be permitted to enter. I want to be treated like a grown-up when I go out for lunch or dinner. If the restaurant doesn’t have a spare table I’d like to be allowed to have a drink at the bar rather than...
David Parkin finds the Ivy all fur coat and no knickers

David Parkin finds the Ivy all fur coat and no knickers

ESCAPE rooms are an increasingly popular activity for groups of work colleague and friends. But I’ve got an alternative for you. Try getting into one of the many Ivy Brasserie restaurants that seem to have sprung up like knotweed around the UK over the past 12 months. If you do manage to get through the portals then your reward will be memorable – an overpriced meal and service which is painful. The staff are neither obsequious or arrogant, they just have a unique way of conveying the message that you are lucky to be there and they are doing you a huge favour. If this was the original Ivy – the century old restaurant in Covent Garden which has long been a magnet for celebrities – you might understand. But it was the Ivy Brasserie in Harrogate, one of 16 that have been opened in an aggressive strategy by Richard Caring’s Caprice Holdings in recent months. And celebs are in shorter supply in the spa town. Although I did see a local bank manager dining there who is a bit of a star – he gave out two business loans in the first half of the year, more than most are allowed to do. The latest Ivy opened its doors in the Victoria Quarter, Leeds this week. I did get an invite to the opening night, but after my experience in Harrogate last Saturday evening, couldn’t be bothered to go. When I visited the original Ivy some years ago I was impressed by every aspect of the place – food, service, decor and value for money. There was a...
David Parkin on four boys in a boat and nearly selling a selfie

David Parkin on four boys in a boat and nearly selling a selfie

WHEN four burly blokes surround you and ask you to do a job for them it is difficult to decline. Fortunately they are a quartet of top men who are aiming to break the world record for rowing across the Atlantic and they want some help with a charity dinner then the decision to say yes is easy. Will Quarmby, Fraser Mowlem, Glyn Sadler and Duncan Roy will set out on their quest from La Gomera in the Canary Islands in December and attempt to get to Antigua in the Caribbean in less 29 days. But before that they have had to train and raise enough money to compete in the challenge alongside holding down full time jobs and finding time to spend with their families.   Duncan Roy told me that the biggest challenge for most teams that want to enter the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is often not the epic row itself but raising the near £100,000 it costs to take part in the race. I first met the Row4Victory boys at Welcome to Yorkshire’s stand at the Great Yorkshire Show last year when they told me of their ambitious plan to not just row the Atlantic in a tiny boat but to do it in a world record time. It sounded a crazy idea and I wished them well, but not before introducing them to Welcome to Yorkshire Y30 member Nic Marshall, who said his firm, a growing Hull-based telemarketing business, called ResQ, would probably not be the best brand name for their boat to have emblazoned on it. But the lads shared Nic’s sense of...
David Parkin on strong transatlantic ties, the tooth of the matter and mankini selfies

David Parkin on strong transatlantic ties, the tooth of the matter and mankini selfies

DONALD Trump might be threatening to take a sledgehammer to many of the United States’ foreign trade agreements but that shouldn’t mask the huge opportunity that British firms have to do business with America. With Brexit looming, there is a renewed enthusiasm on both sides of the Atlantic to build new trading relationships. One such example is a trade mission which takes place in September when Stefan Pryor, Secretary of Commerce for the State of Rhode Island, will head up a group of US businesses and a team of commerce and tourism officials heading to the UK. Visiting the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ cities of Leeds, Hull and Manchester as well as Edinburgh, the mission will see Rhode Island firms meet with UK business leaders with the aim of growing exports between the state and the North of England and Scotland.   I’m joining the group and their hosts for a number of events and will be compering a breakfast panel discussion for ExportExchange, the peer-to-peer mentoring initiative aimed at supporting overseas trade in the Leeds City Region, on September 20 at the offices of UK-US law firm Womble Bond Dickinson. Secretary Pryor and his team will be talking to UK businesses about the latest incentives and support available for British companies planning to set up an operation in Rhode Island, which is increasingly being seen by UK businesses as a first landing place in the US. Rhode Island might be the smallest state in the US but its position sandwiched in between Boston and New York could have seen in overshadowed by its much larger and higher profile neighbours. Instead...
David Parkin on the hottest ticket to the greatest show and the stars out at York

David Parkin on the hottest ticket to the greatest show and the stars out at York

I’VE long held the view that the Firecracker Ball is the hottest ticket in the Yorkshire business and social calendar. So when Martha Phillips from the Firecracker Ball committee rang to ask if I would be interested in being media partner for this year’s event I didn’t hesitate to say yes. The annual event, which raises huge funds for Barnardo’s causes across Yorkshire, takes place in November at Rudding Park Hotel in Harrogate. The Firecracker is a spectacular event and this year’s is no different with a Brazilian carnival themed backdrop and pop singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor entertaining the audience of 800 at the black tie ball. Last year’s ball had an Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland theme and the venue was so beautifully and ambitiously decorated and presented that guests felt they were descending through a rabbit hole to a vast underground kingdom, rather than a marquee. It raised a staggering £270,000 for Barnardo’s and the event has raised £2.5m for the charity since its launch in 2002. Previous themes have included the circus, the Roaring Twenties, the Wizard of Oz and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – complete with Oompa Loompas and a chocolate river which guests crossed by a bridge. Firecracker chairman, the property entrepreneur Phil Taylor and his committee have created a charity event which achieves two key things – raising an enormous amount for a great cause whilst also ensuring sponsors and guests enjoy a fantastic experience. That ensures that the event is always sold out and so if you are considering taking a table then now is the time to act. As someone who comperes...
David Parkin goes to Hull and back and needs new balls

David Parkin goes to Hull and back and needs new balls

TO Hull and Back. That was the name of the Only Fools and Horses Christmas special way back in 1985. I remember watching it on my new portable colour TV in my bedroom right after the Queen’s Speech on Christmas Day. It was the first feature-length episode of the sitcom and so wasn’t accompanied by laughter as it wasn’t filmed in front of a studio audience. Critics wondered whether the format would work but the quality of John Sullivan’s writing was never in question, as the hapless Trotter trio of Del, Rodney and Uncle Albert made their way across the North Sea from Hull to Amsterdam in an attempt to smuggle some diamonds for their pal Boycie – on another of their quests to be millionaires with predictably hilarious results. I’ve always laughed at the title of the episode whenever I’ve had to make a trip to Hull. They used to call it the Far East before Hull became the City of Culture in 2107. But I’ve always found it a welcoming city with loads of history and an entrepreneurial flair you rarely find elsewhere. Like the Trotters I took to the ocean wave yesterday as I boarded a smart motor yacht to join a clutch of Hull entrepreneurs that fortunately have a little more success than Del, Boycie, Mickey, Denzel and Trigger. Shaun Watts of Chameleon Business Interiors, Ken Sturdy of IT@Spectrum, Neil Fisher of Airco, Mark Pearson-Kendall of Andrew Jackson and Nic Marshall of ResQ are among a clutch of business people from Hull who organise an annual “cultural tour” of the city taking in much of...
David Parkin on unsung heroes of business and a Gazza own goal

David Parkin on unsung heroes of business and a Gazza own goal

UNSUNG heroes. It’s a strange phrase. I’ve always loved unearthing the unsung heroes of business. You know, the entrepreneurs who have created something special but also wanted to put something back. But by highlighting their achievements doesn’t that mean that they are no longer unsung? That might be the case but many still remain relatively unrecognised. The Yorkshire Post produced a supplement on Yorkshire Day last week listing the “great and good” of the county. Leafing through it I was left feeling pretty uninspired. All of them, every one, had letters either before or after their name. No hidden gems there then. More like a quick Google of Yorkshire recipients of honours. I could write you a list as long as your arm of people around the county, many in the business world, who deserve honours. And then I’d have a pretty substantial wager that none of them will ever get them. Because of the archaic approach that those civil servants who have done their time always get honours added to politicians lavishing honours on their lackeys it means that when it comes to business there are not many gongs left to go round. And it doesn’t help that the people who advise on honours lack insight and imagination. It all conspires to mean that the people who really do deserve public recognition often don’t get it. When I was at TheBusinessDesk.com we launched the Business Masters Awards to celebrate business success. It included the ventures who had survived the start-up phase to reach their third year in business. Having experienced it I often think it very similar to...