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  • Writer's picturePeter Smith

FRIDAY 12TH NOVEMBER 1999: Lyons and Monk?

The press comment is pretty good this morning; as expected, hubris and parochialism is widely quoted. Jim Mann and I have a lengthy meeting. I think he is trying to sell the Redgrave concept to me; perhaps Andersens have told him I'm having doubts. Jim has heard that Alistair Lyons is joining NatWest. Is this the end for Tim Jones as Retail MD? We assume Lyons must be coming in to do a big job; he is an ex-MD of National and Provincial Building Society and quite high profile. Jim thinks we should do something about our software development division, RIS; he thinks it is far too big and not particularly efficient, even if it is improving.

We go through the work I have done on purchasing and Redgrave. He says that each JV would effectively be a separate company, so I would potentially be the MD of the purchasing business, which I guess could be interesting. We also agree that we would need to bring Accounts Payable into the "company". My Head of Purchasing Systems is being driven to distraction by AP 's lack of willingness to co­ operate with what we want to do in thee-procurement project. I recruited D from Esso last year. He is mid-forties, a Mathematician by training, and perhaps unusually for that discipline, is incredibly focussed and action-oriented.

He wants to get things done in the fastest, most direct way possible, occasionally treads on a few toes on the way, and while he has been a great recruit for us, I worry sometimes that the NatWest bureaucracy is getting him down. But he seems to have the resilience to keep battering away to try and achieve our objectives! Anyway, we would get things done much faster if AP reported into purchasing rather than finance.

I also have a chat with John Paddick about the next phase of the Head Office changes, and whether we might get put into a business. He thinks that is certainly Ron's view. He also thinks that Alistair Lyons arrival spells the end for Tim. I did meet Lyons once just after I joined the DSS; he was a non-executive Director of either the Department or the Benefits Agency, I can't remember which. He seemed quite young, bright, very assertive; generally impressive.

NOT Theolonius Monk

Pop in to see HR to discuss the timing of the Cheadle warehouse closure, then take the afternoon off to get some early Christmas shopping done. Heavily disguised, I buy a selection of CD's for various relatives who should probably be nameless. These are by artists that I would not normally listen to even if the alternative was a Lloyd Webber musical; people like the Seekers (remember them - you're showing your age!) Also the Inkspots, Clannad ... I also buy myself a Theolonius Monk CD because I heard a track of his I liked recently. Jazz is not my favourite music, and unfortunately when I get home I discover that the track in question was probably the only track by Mr. Monk I will ever like. The CD I have bought is totally unlistenable; luckily it was only a £4.99 investment.

Friday night is usually a decent bottle of wine and collapse in front of Friends, Frasier, Goodness Gracious Me or similar. Tonight, I am considering my options. If we stay independent and purchasing is moved into Retail, or another business, I will leave. If we get bought, I might stay, but probably not as I will not relocate to Scotland. Suddenly the Redgrave option, being the MD of a quasi-independent company, is looking more attractive.

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