Rise, fall and rise of controversial businessman

Colourful entrepreneur Gerald Ratner will be telling the story of his rise, fall and rise to the south’s business leaders at the Solent Business Growth Summit 2016 next month.

The free event, staged at the Ageas Bowl’s Hilton Hotel, near Southampton, on Tuesday, November 22, promotes business growth in the region and is backed by four of the area’s big firms.

Keynote speaker Gerald, who left school with no qualifications, built up the Ratners business until by the late 1980s it was the UK’s largest high street jeweller with more than 50 per cent of the market.

He will tell his breakfast time audience of his spectacular fall from grace, his riches to rags demise, following his infamous gaffe during a speech to Institute of Directors in 1991 in which he derided his own company’s products.The Ageas bowl gathering will hear how ‘Doing a Ratner’ became part of the language and how he was eventually fired from his own company.

He said: “I lost everything and was reduced to watching Countdown in the afternoons, depressed, ostracised and bewildered. 
“I was rejected by 50 companies when trying to find work before managing to buy, develop and sell a health club and start afresh on the retail trail.”
Still one of the most well-known names in the world of retail, Gerald launched a new business, GeraldOnline, which today is turning over £25m and is the number one UK online jewellery retailer in a competitive marketplace.

He added: “My message to businesspeople is simple: Never give up, learn valuable lessons from your mistakes – however horrendous – and don’t let your ego get in the way of business sense.

“Even if you feel you are at rock bottom you can still succeed by showing tenacity, fighting for your life and seizing every opportunity.
“I’ve managed to come back, stronger and wiser for the experience, and I want to share those experiences with my fellow businesspeople.”

The 7.30am to 10am summit, aimed at decision-makers, senior management and business leaders interested in regional economic growth, will include an update on regional trends and issues for businesses.

Hosts for the event are four companies with a strong operational presence in the city region – Santander Corporate and Commercial Bank, accountancy and investment management group Smith & Williamson, commercial property consultancy Hughes Ellard and law firm Trethowans.

The event’s other guest is entrepreneur Andy Lennox, the founder of successful and expanding Thai restaurant group Koh Thai Tapas, who will be speaking on business growth, the regional market and the future.

Since 2009 Andy has launched 12 restaurants across the south from Bristol to Southsea under the Koh brand and won both the 2015 ‘Entrepreneur of the Year award’, 2015 Best Employer in Hospitality and the 2016 ‘World Cuisine Award’ at the Dorset Tourism Awards.

Places are still available for the summit, also including an 8am breakfast and optional time later for networking. Anyone interesting in attending should contact Samantha Trivino at Smith & Williamson on samantha.trivino@smithandwilliamson.com or via phone 023 80827656. Places are limited.