UK: Ups and downs of Thatcherism - the corporate winners and losers. (5 of 5)

UK: Ups and downs of Thatcherism - the corporate winners and losers. (5 of 5) -

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Losers (continued)

Sophie Mirman (niche retailing): 1988 £51m; 1990 nil.

From lowly origins as a typist at Marks and Spencer, Sophie Mirman became an M and S management trainee. After a spell at Tie Rack she found her own niche in socks. Sock Shop mushroomed, but too fast, and entry into the US was a disaster. With debts of £17 million, it was sold to management for £3.2 million. Shareholders received nothing. Mirman now runs a children's shop in London's King's Road.

Stephen Marks (retailing): 1984 £47m; 1990 £3m.

Since 1983 Stephen Marks' French Connection fashion group has given its shareholders a rollercoaster ride. From the high point in 1984, when Marks's fortune was worth some £47 million, the group has often plunged into losses, and Marks had to bring in a new chief executive. But 1990 half-year results showed signs that the worst was over.

George Walker (property and leisure): 1987 £52m; 1990 £10m.

George Walker was a professional boxer before starting his business career. He built up his property and leisure group to pre-tax profits estimated at just under £100 million in 1990. But a debt mountain of £1.4 billion brought it to the brink of collapse late last year. A condition of rescheduling the debt was that Walker split his dual role at the top.

Godfrey Bradman (property): 1987 £45m; 1990 £8m.

Former tax avoidance consultant Godfrey Bradman was one of a handful of property developers who reshaped London in the '80s. But speculative ventures in the late '80s have proved costly to fund and unprofitable to sell in a worsening climate. Rosehaugh's results for 1989/90 revealed a pre-tax loss of £165 million, the largest deficit ever for a UK property enterprise.

Michael Green (television services): 1989 £51m; 1990 £17m.

At the age of 12 Michael Green could read a balance sheet; by 20 he had his own company. In eight years he built his television services company, Carlton Communications, to a value of £1 billion. But in 1990 it started to unravel. Flat prospects have seen the share prices plummet by two thirds: Green has relinquished the chief executive role, though he remains chairman.

Saatchi brothers (advertising): 1987 £30m; 1990 £1.6m.

After leading its sector in hectic growth, Saatchi and Saatchi became the largest advertising agency in the world. When growth weakened in 1989, it also led the sector's decline. A pre-tax loss of £15 million in 1989 was turned into a profit of £36 million in 1990 after the brothers handed over management control to Frenchman Robert Louis Dreyfus.

Tony Martinez (electronics): 1984 £15m; 1990 £1.3m.

Tony Martinez took his computer company, Microvitec, to the stock market in 1984. Soon his shareholding was worth some £15 million. But in recent years Microvitec has had a chequered history. Profit margins collapsed and Martinez was ousted as chairman. He remains a major shareholder, but his shares are worth only a fraction of their '84 value.

Reg Valin (communications): 1987 £14m; 1990 under £1m.

In 1987 Reg Valin was proud of The VPI Group, the communications consultancy which he co-founded. In three years VPI's value had risen from £9.55 million to £121 million. But it was sold to Tranwood Consortium late last year for just £1.6 million, just before going into receivership. The trigger was the 1987 purchase of The Carter Organisation. Valin had resigned the chairmanship in 1989.

Jon Summerill (advertising): 1987 £12m; 1990 under £1m.

The Yellowhammer advertising group was founded by Jon Summerill. After the great bull market he was sitting on a £12 million paper fortune. Following expansion overseas and as recession deepened in 1989, the group folded. The main advertising agency was bought by the US group DMB and B. Summerill is staying on as chairman for the time being.

Martin Sorrell (advertising): 1987 £10.19m; 1990 £1.17m.

Regarded as the third Saatchi brother when he was finance director of their advertising group, Martin Sorrell decided to branch out on his own in 1985. Buying a small Kent engineering company, Wire and Plastic Products (WPP), he went on to create an advertising group to rival Saatchi, with two giant American takeovers in 1987 and 1989. He is struggling under a mountain of debt today.

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