Remember Gerald Ratner? The man who saw a massive jewellery empire crumble in a few weeks after branding his own goods “crap”.
Well, 15 years later he’s come back from the dead in business terms and is once again in the money, with a successful online jewellery business.
He will also soon be appearing in his on TV show, boldly called Doing A Ratner. It will be running on Sky TV next year when the good Gerald will be parachuted into troubled businesses which need saved from the brink.
Meanwhile an older and wiser Ratner is also making his presence felt on the after dinner speaking circuit, where his own experience serves as an amusing if cautionary tale.
I was a cub reporter when the Ratmeister committed commercial suicide around 1991 and the media fallout was awesome to behold. At the time it was predicted he’d never be a force in business again.
Certainly the next time he blipped on my radar wasn’t until last year, when “The Fall and Rise of Gerald Ratner” was a keynote event for insolvency practitioners during their annual bunfight at the Scottish Parliament. Last night (Nov 7) Ratters was back in the limelight – this time as the guest speaker at Prestonfield House Hotel in Edinburgh for the Insider Enterprise 250 Awards.
If he’s bitter about his experiences it certainly didn’t show. He seemed relaxed, well-centred and has clearly put it behind him. In fact he raised more than a few laughs as he told his story to a roomful of business people.
He explained he only included the now infamous “crap” comment as a joke, when an aide told him his speech lacked wit and sparkle and urged him to “spice up” the rather po-faced content. Thanks for the advice buddy.
Still, Ratners’ sense of humour perhaps required fine tuning. The 6000 members of the Institute of Directors who were the audience in the Albert Hall that fateful night certainly don’t remember it for the belly laughs.
No amount of PR would ever have saved Ratner and his fall from grace is still considered an object lesson in the disastrous consequences of treating customers with contempt.
But you can’t keep a good man down. Ratner doesn’t seem to take it too seriously these days and his www.geraldonline.com jewellery business ensures he’ll never have trouble paying the mortgage.