Anorak News | Segway Owner’s Fatal Accident Joins List Of Corporate Fails: Ratner Still Wins

Segway Owner’s Fatal Accident Joins List Of Corporate Fails: Ratner Still Wins

by | 27th, September 2010

WHEN Segway owner Jimi Heselden drove his motorised scooter off a cliff and died, he joined a long list of corporate leaders who have managed to make their product look less than great. We present a selection of epic corporate fails: Hoover, Tony Hayward, David Shepherd; John Schnatter and the great Gerald Ratner…


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GERALD RATNER In 1991, Gerald Ratner, head of the eponymous Ratners jewellers, addressed the Institute of Directors: "We also do cut-glass sherry decanters complete with six glasses on a silver-plated tray that your butler can serve you drinks on, all for £4.95. People say, 'How can you sell this for such a low price?', I say, 'because it's total crap'." Also earrings sold by Ratners were "cheaper than an M&S prawn sandwich, but probably wouldn't last as long". And so 18 months later he left the firm – what was left of it. The day before his comments, the company had announced record pre-tax profits of £110m, bucking the consumer recession. It was even on the verge of buying Dixons, the electrical chain. Within weeks, £500m was wiped off the company value and Ratner was forced out of the firm with a £375,000 pay off. The company, which plunged into a £122m loss, was renamed Signet to expunge Ratner's name from the nation's memories. Not that everyone saw it coming. Says Ratner: “I’d not been home long when Charles Saatchi called. ‘There’s a fantastic piece in the Evening Standard,’ he said. ‘There’s a good line about you calling some of your products crap. It works really well. You come across as a really great guy with a good sense of humour. It’s terrific PR.’”

Posted: 27th, September 2010 | In: Money Comment | TrackBack | Permalink