THE HUMAN FACTOR: Ben Gordon must make sure that the front of house at Mothercare looks as good as possible while the turmoil backstage is brought to order

THE HUMAN FACTOR: Ben Gordon must make sure that the front of house at Mothercare looks as good as possible while the turmoil backstage is brought to order - Modern business is undeniably complicated. Technology, globalisation and the growing body of empl

by PATIENCE WHEATCROFT, business and City editor of The Times

Modern business is undeniably complicated. Technology, globalisation and the growing body of employment law and regulation add multiple layers of often conflicting considerations to the simple concepts of manufacturing and trade. I make that point to demonstrate my awareness that to criticise business is much easier than to actually do it. Journalists risk finding themselves derided in an extension of the old maxim: 'Those who can't, teach. Or write about it.'

Nevertheless, I am alarmed at how often businesses fail to get the essential elements of their operation right. Take Mothercare, a straightforward concept with a constant stream of potential new customers.

Providing for the needs of new mothers and their young children was, when Selim Zilkha came up with the idea, a surefire winner. Yet Mothercare has failed to capitalise on the brand name that he established.

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