'If bread and butter was illegal, I'd be thin.' Nikki King, Isuzu Truck UK

My Style: The straight-talking honorary chairman of Isuzu Truck UK lauds the joys of a sarnie, real ale and going grey.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 28 Oct 2014


If I'm going into the office, I'll wake at 6.30am and put the dog out. After a quick cup of coffee, we have a 65-mile trip on the M25 from my home in Rochester to our office in Hatfield. It's great bringing my dog to work. Her name's Storm and she's a Japanese Akita - she's like a big husky and everyone loves her. I'll usually have meetings or I'll be training on customer service or just tying up odds and ends. Lunch is usually a quick prawn or tuna sandwich, then it's another sandwich when I'm home in the evening. If bread and butter was illegal, I'd be thin. Sometimes I have business lunches in London - I recommend Scott's in Mayfair for fish. I tend to wear a lot of loose, unstructured tops and jackets, often bought from Razzberry Bazaar in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, with French sole pumps or Prada sandals. I love antique jewellery and there's a great shop near home called Kaizen, where I've been going for years. They save things for me. I try to get past the shop with my head down, but they spot me and say: 'Guess what? We've got this.' And I can't resist.


When I was running Isuzu UK, I'd go to Japan four times a year. The head office was in Tokyo and I always stayed in the Keikyu EX hotel. The manager there and I have got this thing going where he gives me a massage chair and a big bowl of soup when I arrive and I bring him Scotch. I often travel in the UK to visit other sites, and I'll always stay in hotels that I want my staff to stay in. Premier Inns are fantastic: the service is great. When travelling, I'll always take my Kindle and a good moisturiser, normally Chanel. When going abroad I have an iPad - I wouldn't be without the Ocado and Sky + apps.

I also play a game called Panda Jam. The Dropbox app is essential so I can keep up with my two grandchildren wherever I am.


Since stepping back as MD of the business, I average two days a week for Isuzu, working Wednesday and Thursday. On Monday and Tuesday, I look after my 16-month-old twin granddaughters while my daughter works at Isuzu as general manager of our customer service team. Her twins arrive at 8.30, and I'll have them till about 6. It's not double trouble - it's quadruple trouble. By Tuesday night, I'm aching all over, but I absolutely adore them. I rarely drink, although I do like an occasional pint of real ale. I made a rule after my divorce aged 40 that I would not drink alone and I never have. I have my nails done and a pedicure once a fortnight. When I hit 66, I decided I was going to go grey. So now I just go to Toni & Guy every six weeks to have my hair cut. I wish I'd done it years ago - it makes me look younger.


My main mentor is John Harvey, who led the buyout of Tibbett & Britten from Unilever and taught me a lot. Knowing I can ask someone for advice if I have a problem has been a huge help. I was a part-time secretary before my divorce forced me to get a full-time job. I joined Stormont, a Ford dealer, and worked my way up to fleet director before I was headhunted by Lex. Isuzu asked Lex to be its partner for establishing the brand in the UK. Four years on, I felt they weren't adding to the business, so I arranged a buyout in 2004. In my mid-60s, I sold the business back to Isuzu. John stayed with me throughout. Networking is everything: every quarter, the AFI (Automotive Fellowship International) has a get-together for the heads of all the motor manufacturers.

Meet Nikki King at MT's Inspiring Women conference on 20th November. Hurry! Our early-bird discount runs out this month. Save £166 on your ticket by booking before 31st August.

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