October 12, 2010
Once an adman, always an adman. Richard Wheatly has moved on a bit since his days as chairman of Leo Burnett – to become, by the look of it, Britain’s foremost jazz entrepreneur. But he’s still a dab-hand at targeting an audience.
Wheatly, who recently reacquired digital radio station Jazz FM in a management buyout, plans to launch his company on the stock exchange. And what better way to warm up his investment audience than another series of Jazz in the City – a one-hour programme broadcast from 6-7pm every Monday evening? To underline the point, he’s managed to persuade Piers Currie, Aberdeen Asset Management’s marketing chief, to sponsor the programme and Stevie Spring, chief executive of Future, Sir Stuart Rose, formerly executive chairman of M&S, Charles Dunstone, founder of Carphone Warehouse and TalkTalk, Caroline Daniel, FT Weekend Editor and Peter Cruddas, ceo CMC Markets, to appear in it.
Wheatly – himself an accomplished jazz pianist – has already made one fortune from resurrecting Jazz in the mid nineties, floating it, then selling it on to Guardian Media Group for £44.5m six years ago. Clearly he has another one in view.
May 8, 2009
A Dickens of a dilemma
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.
“The old adage is: make your move in a downturn and profit in an upturn,” says Andy Street, managing director of John Lewis. Street and his boss Charlie Mayfield are putting their money where his mouth is by launching up to 50 “pocket” stores in the midst of the recession. We don’t know what they’ll be called yet, but we do know that they will contain electrical goods, furniture and kitchenware, aimed at taking share from the likes of Ikea, DFS and Currys.
Now compare and contrast Best Buy, the giant US electrical retailer that owns half of Charles Dunstone’s Carphone’s retail outfit. Best Buy’s aggressive European expansion strategy seems to be shrivelling before very eyes. The plan was, you’ll recall, to open 100 mega consumer stores in the UK by 2013, starting this year. First we’ve had the plan postponed to next spring, now we’re told it is to be scaled back to 80 stores. Robert Willett, chief executive of Best Buy International, is still talking the talk, but this looks like a serious tactical withdrawal to me.
Either Willett is right to be cautious, or Street is right to be bold. OK, they appeal to slightly different markets, but there is overlap. One of them must be wrong, but which?