David Parkin on why bottom of the league are top of the class, a hardy perennial blossoms at the Masters and getting hits with the ghoulies

David Parkin on why bottom of the league are top of the class, a hardy perennial blossoms at the Masters and getting hits with the ghoulies

IF my host at last Saturday’s match between Huddersfield Town and Leicester City had invited me to make himself feel better, then he didn’t mention it. The West Yorkshire club were playing their first game since their relegation from the Premier League was confirmed by a 2-0 loss at Crystal Palace the week before. Their lowly points tally and number of goals scored makes the Terriers one of the worst teams in Premier League history. But not the worst. That was my team, Derby County, who were relegated with just 11 points in 2008. But my host, Jason Taylor, commercial director at Orchard, the facilities management and energy group, and other Huddersfield fans and officials I met at the John Smith’s Stadium were far too nice to mention it. They have had some time to come to terms with relegation during their second season back in the top flight. But that doesn’t make it any easier. So I was delighted that conversation around our table over lunch in the White Rose Club centred on the best pie shop in Wakefield rather than a forensic study of either of our football clubs’ recent fortunes. When it comes to pies, Andy Needham of Approved Foods, Britain’s largest online retailer of clearance food and drink, is an aficionado. Football is a funny old game, as dear old Jimmy Greaves used to say. Fans often enjoy the misfortunes of their closest rivals almost as much as they do the success of their own team. And I’ve always found it a bit odd that certain rules apply in the sport that don’t quite work...
David Parkin on the future of Welcome to Yorkshire and rocking the boat

David Parkin on the future of Welcome to Yorkshire and rocking the boat

DEPENDING on your viewpoint, the scheduling of Welcome to Yorkshire’s annual Y19 conference this week came at the worst, or the best, possible time. Chief executive Sir Gary Verity resigned on health grounds two weeks ago from the role he had held for a decade. He left after concerns were raised over his behaviour towards staff and his expenses. Subsequent reports in the media speculated over the size and details of those expense claims and featured interviews with at least two of his former personal assistants criticising his behaviour. If the Welcome to Yorkshire board hoped that Sir Gary’s abrupt departure would allow the organisation to move on quickly, the furore that followed quickly dispelled that notion. This week, the day before Y19, Welcome to Yorkshire’s board announced two independent investigations into Sir Gary’s expenses and behaviour since his appointment in 2008. Those investigations will aim to establish the facts from the speculation and gossip swirling around his departure. At this stage, the only thing I can say with some certainty is that it seems Sir Gary went through personal assistants at an even faster rate than former Leeds United chairman Massimo Cellino went through managers. On Wednesday the team he once led at Welcome to Yorkshire were faced with delivering their annual showcase event on the 10th anniversary of the organisation’s launch at a time when it was making headlines for reasons other than tourism success. I think we’d all agree that’s a tough job. But I think Y19 came at the right time. Amid all the speculation and schadenfreude perhaps what was getting forgotten was the incredible...
David Parkin on Sir Gary Verity and getting shirty

David Parkin on Sir Gary Verity and getting shirty

THERE is no getting away from the big news of the last seven days. It all surrounded a larger than life figure with many fans, a good number of detractors and an ability to attract a huge amount of publicity and also some controversy. Most of us were shocked, some were upset, others verging on the celebratory at the news. And I know I can’t avoid writing about it. Yes, the launch of Marmite Peanut Butter. Who would have thought we were missing that from our lives? Anyway, the other news was the shock departure of Sir Gary Verity from tourism body Welcome to Yorkshire. It was announced last Friday evening that the man behind the audacious and outrageously successful bid to bring the Grand Départ of the Tour de France to Yorkshire in 2014 had resigned on health grounds from the role he had held for a decade. He left after concerns were raised over his behaviour towards staff and his expenses. An investigation by the board of Welcome to Yorkshire concluded that “Sir Gary made errors of judgement regarding his expenses at a very difficult time for him and his family”. He lost his younger sister Lindsay in January. Apparently he has agreed to voluntarily reimburse the organisation for “monies owed” which is said to be a five figure sum. A story followed in the Sunday Times which claimed to be an “investigation” into the tourism supremo. However it shed little new light on the claims of bullying against him and appeared more like an opportunity for some to settle old scores. I’ve known Gary for a...
David Parkin on a leisurely discussion, luxury hotels and a rose of hope

David Parkin on a leisurely discussion, luxury hotels and a rose of hope

NO the picture above isn’t a shot from the set of a new Yorkshire version of Mamma Mia. Although the bloke at front left does have a look of a young Pierce Brosnan. It is from an event we organised this week for financial recruitment firm Woodrow Mercer Finance at Trinity Kitchen, the street food experience at the Trinity shopping centre in Leeds. The Business of Leisure brought together a panel of four people working in completely different areas of this diverse and exciting sector. Peter Banks, is managing director of Rudding Park Hotel in Harrogate and has been a pivotal figure transforming the family-owned hotel into one of the finest luxury resorts in Yorkshire, boasting a £9.5m roof-top spa. When I asked Peter to take part in the panel event he told me he would be telling it like it is, deftly taking a verbal rapier to  the many challenges the hospitality industry faces, not least British young people’s distaste for working in the sector. Joining Peter on the panel was Phil Forster, external affairs manager at Leeds Bradford Airport Phil, who has worked as a press officer for Newcastle United and reporter for Sky Sports News, joined Leeds Bradford from Newcastle Airport a year ago following the appointment of David Laws as chief executive. The airport, which was sold by private equity firm Bridgepoint to Australian fund AMP Capital in 2017, is currently engaged in ambitious growth plans including adding new services, expanding the terminal and a longer term project to improve road and rail access. But Phil was quick to admit that it is still primarily...
David Parkin on Game of Thrones, balloons, bikes and cat flaps

David Parkin on Game of Thrones, balloons, bikes and cat flaps

FROM gold medal winning Olympians to David Bowie, the Kaiser Chiefs, chart toppers Rudimental and Game of Thrones. At a dinner for alumni of Leeds Beckett University last week I learned of the cultural, teaching, sporting and learning influence that the institution, dating back to 1824, has had. And given I received an honorary degree from the university in 2013, I’m in good company. The uni, which has its main campus in Headingley in Leeds and another base at the Rose Bowl building in the city centre, invited back honorary graduates for a dinner hosted by Chancellor Sir Bob Murray and Vice Chancellor Peter Slee. It was Bob, co-founder of bathroom manufacturer Spring RAM and the former chairman of Sunderland football club, who presented me with the honorary degree. I had met and interviewed Bob some years before and when I launched TheBusinessDesk.com he visited us soon after launch at our tiny offices to learn more and wish us well. But I’d always known he was a decent bloke as he was one of the very few people who Guy Martin-Laval used to speak highly of when they visited his restaurant, La Grillade. Even though diners used to spend large amounts in his Leeds establishment, Guy, as gallic as they come, used to view visitors as a bit of an imposition he had to try and grit his teeth and put up with. Back at Leeds Beckett, I learned that the dinner last week was the first they have held for alumni. Walking into the dining hall, the first two people I bumped into were veteran stockbroker Keith Loudon...
David Parkin joins Beyonce, Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran

David Parkin joins Beyonce, Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran

BEYONCE, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, Coldplay. Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium has played host to some of the world’s biggest names in entertainment. This week it was my turn. Now admittedly, I didn’t appear in front of the size of crowd that Queen B and Jay Z are used to. And I didn’t whip my audience into the kind of frenzy that Take That can induce. But then again, they weren’t focusing on human resources and payroll services. I was at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester to host the Northern Business Forum for ADP. The US-based group is one of the global leaders in HR and payroll services and is listed on the NASDAQ market in New York and ranked at 248 in the Fortune 500. It’s UK operation is better known in the South of England and so this week’s event was part of ADP’s plans to raise its profile in the North. I met Matt Roberts of ADP years ago when we both worked in neighbouring offices in the Round Foundry Media Centre in Leeds. And so more than 10 years later, when he was looking to deliver a successful business forum he knew exactly who to call to host it. Fortunately they were engaged and I answered my phone. The event, in a smart second floor suite overlooking the lush Etihad pitch, featured two keynote speakers and a panel discussion which I chaired. The first speaker was Bob Brown, chief information officer at Manchester City Council. With his slick haircut, white teeth and sharp jacket and tie, Bob looks more like a Sky Sports presenter rather than  a...
David Parkin on a heavyweight meeting, Italian restaurants and a dog day afternoon

David Parkin on a heavyweight meeting, Italian restaurants and a dog day afternoon

WHEN it comes to stories of redemption, Tyson Fury’s is hard to beat. Seemingly on top of the world after improbably winning the world heavyweight title from long-serving champion Wladimir Klitschko, the self-titled Gipsy King’s fall from grace was rapid and shocking. Rightly vilified for making misogynistic and homophobic comments, he descended into a dark pit of drug taking and drinking and ballooned from his fighting weight of 18 stone to almost 28 stone, gave up his title and received a two-year anti-doping ban. Fury, who is as articulate as any sports person I’ve seen, has openly admitted that his long-term battle with mental illness is the reason for many of his problems. After two years of self-abuse he says that about a year ago he woke up one morning and decided he no longer wanted to be that man. He got treatment for his depression, trained hard, shed weight and had a forgettable comeback fight. It led to a match-up against heavy-hitting WBC champion Deontay Wilder in Los Angeles in December. Given the abyss in which he had been in, it was remarkable that Fury had got himself back to even stand in a ring and contest a world title. Most pundits predicted he would lose and just hoped he wouldn’t get badly hurt. Despite being knocked down, Fury outboxed the ferocious Wilder until the 12th round when he was flattened by a punch and lay motionless on the canvas. And then the 6ft 9in Fury rose to his feet and bounced lightly on his toes before the referee finished his count. He then boxed the rest of...
David Parkin can’t escape Yorkshire on the other side of the world and has a Valentine’s date with a drag queen

David Parkin can’t escape Yorkshire on the other side of the world and has a Valentine’s date with a drag queen

YOU go on holiday to get away from it all. I’ve just spent two weeks in South Africa and couldn’t get away from Yorkshire. I suppose I wasn’t so much annoyed as surprised. You fly halfway across the world and you don’t really expect there to be many reminders of home. Particularly at the southernmost tip of Africa. There I was at a farm up a mountain outside Franschhoek preparing to go on a wine tasting horse riding trip (well I’d got bored of doing it on foot). The lush vineyards bordered by towering mountains make this one of the prettiest places in the winelands of the Western Cape. We were waiting for our guide to return from a morning horse riding tour and we would take two of the Arabian horses on our equine vine trip for the afternoon. “That’s your horse,” said Yolanda, our guide, as the tourist who had taken the horse out that morning dismounted. I did a double take. I recognised him. Not from South Africa, but from the Flying Pizza restaurant in Leeds. “You’re from Leeds aren’t you?” I said and we introduced ourselves to each other. Ian Barnett used to be involved in the textile business and now has interests in telecoms and property. He’s got a hairstyle similar to Sir Philip Green, but fortunately absolutely none of his business ethics. It turns out we have a mutual friend in Michael Michaelson, an entrepreneur and dealmaker who is always great company – as long as you don’t get him onto the subject of Leeds United. I was still shaking my head at...
David Parkin on meeting a legend and words of wisdom from a barber

David Parkin on meeting a legend and words of wisdom from a barber

THEY say it is better to give than to receive. IT certainly felt like that for me last week when we delivered our latest event for Sky. The broadcaster brought together its 250 team managers from every corner of the UK to brief them on new communications technology which is being introduced. We held the event in the Centenary Pavilion at Leeds United’s Elland Road stadium where the staff and catering were top class, everything clicking into place as smoothly as Marcelo Bielsa’s team in full flow against Derby County. When we were setting up the previous day, one of the Sky team managers, Carl Wall, a big Leeds United fan who travels from Lincolnshire with his two sons to every home game, offered his help so he had an opportunity to have a close up look at Elland Road on a non-match day. Carla Stockton-Jones, director of Home Service at Sky, asked if we could arrange for Carl to have a tour inside the stadium. I wondered how we could make Carl’s experience even more memorable and thought it would be nice if possibly a little ambitious if he could be given a tour of Elland Road by a club legend. Legends don’t grow on trees you see. Remembering I met club stalwart Eddie Gray in Welcome to Yorkshire’s box at York Races last year, I got his telephone number and rang Eddie, who said he would be delighted to help. When Carl arrived at the ground I said to him that we might be able to have a look around and we’d go across and wait outside...
David Parkin on the bad and good of banking, Spygate and staying power

David Parkin on the bad and good of banking, Spygate and staying power

THEY say that moving house is one of life’s more stressful experiences. Given I organised my house move five days before Christmas I was prepared for a good dose of chaos in the run up to and during the festive holidays. But the move itself was pretty smooth considering and Christmas went well, despite mislaying my favourite cravat during the house move. A dry sherry just doesn’t feel the same without a silken cravat and smoking jacket. The stress in the situation actually came from getting a mortgage. Advised that NatWest Bank was offering good deals and a customer-friendly approach to lending to home buyers, we applied for a mortgage. It required a fee of over £500 for the bank to have its own survey done to ensure that the value of the property we were buying justified what they were lending us. As far as I’m aware the most that was done by the surveyor NatWest sent was a tick in a box saying the property was unmortgageable because it has its own water supply from a spring rather than a mains water supply. We appealed, pointing out that there are many rural properties which don’t have a mains water supply and asking if the bank had ever provided a mortgage before in such a situation. NatWest dismissed the appeal, refused to refund us our fee and also refused to provide any evidence that their surveyor had even visited the property never mind completed a survey. Our adviser, the impressive Andrew Milnes of Mortgage Advice Bureau, was as perplexed and frustrated as we were and offered to waive...