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Gerald Ratner to speak at Institute of Directors Cambridgeshire dinner 2018


By Paul Brackley


Gerald Ratner will speak at the IoD Cambridgeshire annual dinner
Gerald Ratner will speak at the IoD Cambridgeshire annual dinner

Jeweller will tell of astonishing rise, fall and rise again - and those ill-advised remarks to IoD in 1991

It hasn’t always gone too well when Gerald Ratner has given speeches to the Institute of Directors (IoD).

When he was chief executive of the world’s largest jewellery retailer, Ratner’s Group, his ill-judged decision to call one of the company’s products “total crap”, while speaking at the 1991 IoD annual conference, famously led to the company’s value plummeting by £500 million – and he lost his job.

Years later, he began to rise again, establishing GeraldOnline, which today turns over £25 million.

His remarkable story guarantees that his keynote speech to the IoD Cambridgeshire annual dinner on Friday October 12 at Madingley Hall will be compelling stuff.

His biography, Gerald Ratner: The Rise and Fall… and Rise Again, has been described as “worth its weight in gold”.

And, ironically enough, he is now a popular keynote speaker.

Mr Ratner transformed the British jewellery company from 130 stores and sales of £13 million to a public company with sales of more than £1.2 billion.

By 1990, Ratners was surpassing all its competitors with profits in excess of £120 million.

Then came the speech at the Royal Albert Hall, where he said: “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’.”

Matters hardly improved when he remarked that one set of earrings was “cheaper than an M&S prawn sandwich but probably wouldn’t last as long”.

The ultimate foot-in-mouth moment – now known as “doing a Ratner” – led to a public backlash as the comments were widely reported and it took years for him to recover.

Guests at IoD Cambridgeshire’s black tie, three-course dinner will raise money for Magpas Air Ambulance, which provides care for those in life threatening emergencies across the region.

Magpas chief executive Daryl Brown said: “Magpas Air Ambulance are proud to be chosen by the IoD for such a prestigious event. As a charity that relies on public donations, this will help us to continue saving lives 24/7.”

Madingley Hall was once rented by Queen Victoria as a residence for Edward VII, then the Prince of Wales, while he studied at Cambridge University.

The dinner is sponsored by Barons Cambridge BMW | MINI, The FD Centre, The Marketing Centre and Cambridge Cookery & Bistro.

Table bookings can be made at iod.com/east-events.

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