The retailing world has dismissed Next's chief executive as a man in a grey suit. So how, asks Andrew Davidson, did a quiet, affable accountant engineer the dramatic turnaround of Next's ailing stores?
After all those years of being dismissed as the grey man of British retailing, perhaps David Jones of Next should stand and take a bow. At the end of the '80s this quiet, affable accountant walked to the brink with his company, looked over, contemplated the drop and barely blinked. Now Next's revival is being described as one of the turnarounds of the '90s. Yet most would still say, 'David Who?' Maybe Jones needs some personal PR. Well, he's 52, drives a Range Rover, likes a Montecristo No 1 cigar after lunch, spends his weekdays sharing a house in Leicester with other Next personnel, and weekends at home in Yorkshire where, it seems, he plays a lot of snooker and golf, Saturdays with his friends and Sundays with his wife. He also enjoys films, watches lots of sport on TV, counts a few rugby internationals among his mates and hates this kind of stuff.