MT 40: Scrapbook 2000

A redesigned MT kept a bright eye out for post-millennial entrepreneurial zeal but found much to castigate in fat-cattery and corporate collapse. We even went to jail ...

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

MARCH 00 - Smoothie-talking entrepreneurs

Three youthful faces lit up MT's 'Coming up fast' entrepreneurs' section.

The lads from Innocent - Richard Reed, Jon Wright and Adam Balon (right) - told us it had taken nine months of fruit-squashing before they could buy a round with their first day's takings - a whopping £16. Hip and casual, they spoke the language of the new century: 'It's not that we are anti-corporate,' they crooned, 'it's just that it's easier to connect with people when you aren't wearing a suit.' Their uncompromising approach to quality raised eyebrows at the time, but it paid off - their fruit drinks tapped straight into the Noughties niche for affordable-but-luxurious health-boosting products.

MARCH 01 - A Rose by any other name

'I'm not the same Stuart Rose, I have changed a lot,' said the Arcadia chief (left), referring to his previous tenure at Burtons, which had ended acrimoniously with the company's de-merger.

Still, sitting back in what he had described as 'the only job I've ever wanted', it was a contented man who met us that month. MT was there with its predictions once again: 'If Rose gets it right at Arcadia, there are no prizes for guessing where retail experts expect him to finish - M&S.' Three years later, Rose was indeed off to M&S, battling bids from Philip Green.

JULY 02 - The wonder about Woolies

'Can Woolies survive?' we demanded. The historic store was under the cosh. 'For sale' signs were up outside its 788 branches; annual sales totalled £2.6bn and £46m was lost. Philip Green - that man again - was seen circling, but BHS merger talks collapsed. (Green, on visiting Woolies' Finchley Road store, exclaimed: 'I've never seen a bigger pile of shit.') Woolworths has since seen venture capitalist Apax pull out of a bid, and had to sell its MVC entertainment stores. Four years on, Woolies is no closer to answering our question.

SEPTEMBER 02 - Turbulent times for flagship airlines

A year on from the World Trade Center disaster, and the traditional airline industry was in turmoil. BA and Lufthansa posted huge losses in the wake of the atrocity; low-cost carriers like Ryanair, meanwhile, were raking it in. 'We lost £244 million on the short-haul business last year, which shows you how serious the challenge is,' said Martin George, BA's marketing director.

OCTOBER 02 - No fairy-tale ending for Andersen

How fast the mighty may fall. In the late '90s, auditing giant Andersen sat proudly among the Big Five accountancy firms, receiving a million job applications a year. Then news broke that its US arm had implicated itself in the Enron fraud by shredding evidence - and all hell broke loose.

John Ormerod, managing partner of Andersen in the UK, made an ill-judged appearance on Newsnight, and was 'kebabbed' by Jeremy Vine, reducing his company's reputation to tatters. Then the bombshell: the US federal government brought charges of obstruction of justice and the ship was sunk globally. A violent end in an unyielding world.

AUGUST 03 - The bell doesn't chime for the euro

Major political chatter in 2003 - Gordon Brown announced in June that the UK wouldn't be joining the euro, saying four of the five tests he'd set in 1997 had not been met. When MT asked 11 business leaders to propose their own tests, most expressed relief about not joining the currency, at least until the time was right. Arguably the most eloquent alternative test suggestions came from Lord Bell of Chime Communications. He listed his five as shown left.

NOVEMBER 03 - Cassani gets Olympic bid off the blocks

MT met the chairman of London's 2012 Olympic bid as she was just settling into her new role. Bostonian Barbara Cassani (below), who'd set up BA's budget division Go!, had come into the £200,000-a-year post that June with her work cut out - rival bids from New York, Madrid, Paris and Rio were already shaping up. 'We just have to stick to our belief that what we are doing is right,' said Cassani. By May 2004 she'd persuaded the notoriously tough IOC board to shortlist London. Unceremoniously removed, she said the bid needed a British sporting hero at the helm. Her sacrifice paid off - in July 2005, hysterical scenes greeted the success of London's bid under Seb Coe.

Do the British people want it?

APRIL 04 - Overpaid and underworked

After an initial disclaimer saying 'it's really not just jealousy', MT beamed the spotlight on Britain's most overpaid jobs. And what a variety of rapidly filling pockets we found (see panel above).

MARCH 05 - Budget retailers pile up the profits

This was to be the year of the budget retailer, and MT was right there rummaging through the racks, with a feature on TK Maxx, Matalan and Primark.

Established high street names like M&S were feeling the pinch in the tough retail climate, as even fashion-obsessed yummy mummies caught the 'only a fiver at Primark' treasure-hunt bug. And Primark won most of the plaudits: the word-of-mouth phenomenon released results that November showing profits up 30% to £613m.

APRIL 05 - Management speak at Man U

The famous hairdryer was out in force when MT visited fortress Old Trafford for a face-to-face with Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson and chairman David Gill (right). The pair were in the middle of the takeover battle with Malcolm Glazer at the time. Luckily, the jet of hot air was reserved for the players, who had just been ejected from the Champions League by AC Milan. By the time he got to us, the famously fiery Scot had mellowed.

Sir Alex gave away some of his surprisingly paternalistic management secrets, as well as a disarmingly open prediction as to his successor: 'I can see Roy Keane as manager here. He's intelligent and decisive. What's the most important thing you need as a manager? To be able to make a decision.'

MT wrote: 'The futures of both Gill and Man United hang in the balance. The enormous weight of sporting tradition and fanatical fan loyalty on one side of the scales, and a wealthy, determined 76-year-old Floridian on the other.' It proved to be a defeat that the fans found really hard to swallow.

APRIL 06 - Down and dirty among the white-collar lags

MT found itself sent down - not for crimes we didn't commit but rather to get the inside story on white-collar crime. The testimony of an inmate, as well as views from the commissioner of the City of London Police, a forensic investigator and the Serious Fraud Office, provided an unusual insight into a shady area that costs the UK economy around £14bn a year.

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