David Parkin on Republic, corporate finance and Valentine’s Day

DON’T let the collapse of clothing retailer Republic make you think this has been a bad week for Yorkshire business.

The morbid obsession of the national media with bad news meant that Republic being put into administration was high up on news reports for more than 24 hours.

It’s unwelcome of course, and awful for those whose jobs have already been lost or are under threat.

But it is one company. Look at some of the good news that happened this week.

You’d have been forgiven for thinking we were returning to the heady days of yore in corporate finance as a series of deals were completed.

Leeds pharmaceuticals manufacturer Rosemont was sold by its private equity owners for an estimated £180m to $10bn turnover US giant Perrigo.

What was nice to see about that deal is that the management team of CEO John Blythe and FD Neil Salvin will be staying on to drive the company forward and much of the advice was provided from the Leeds advisory market with Stephen Moore and Rob Dunnett from Rothschild providing the financial advice, legal advice from Debbie Jackson at Walker Morris and due diligence from Nigel Ward at PwC.

Yesterday kitchen and catering equipment company Airedale Group, which has a turnover of £18m, was aquired by its management in a deal advised by Jim Whitaker and colleagues from Baker Tilly and funded by Rockpool Investments and RBS.

On Monday Yorkshire hair styling brand ghd was sold by private equity firm Montagu to Lion Capital for an undisclosed sum and in the same week ghd founder Robert Powls spoke about his global ambitions for his new Ilkley-based hair styling products business Cloud Nine which has achieved £9m turnover just three years after launch.

Then York newsagent chain Maynews – advised by Martin Frost and colleagues at York law firm Denison Till – was acquired by Birmingham rival First Stop News to create a £90m turnover business.

And to cap that, Rotherham firm Parseq bought London-based contact centre services business The Panther Group to create one of the UK’s largest business process outsourcing companies.

So don’t tell me it’s all doom and gloom. It depends where you get your news from!

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ONE question I’ve got about the demise of fashion retailer Republic. Why did chairman and former Asda boss Andy Bond depart through the emergency exit door last week before it went into administration?

I’m sure it can’t have been because he wanted to avoid the blot of an insolvency on his CV.

Surely the role of a chairman is to not just take the plaudits when a company is doing well, but to provide a guiding hand and the benefit of wisdom and experience when it also hits choppy waters?

Certainly management teams can be guilty of acting in a blinkered way because they are so close to a business. That is why a chairman must be the person who takes a much wider view giving him or her the ability to spot problems on the horizon or to provide calming and experienced guidance when they emerge without warning.

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RELATIONSHIPS between journalists and public relations people can be fractitious.

But not when I read blogs like the one just penned by Yorkshire PR heavyweight Nathan Lane.

Read his blog on media website The Drum here.

You can call me shallow, but perhaps it is because of the honourable mention our humble business received that I liked it.

Now running Campfire PR, Lane boasts experience at Green PR, Brahm and running Golley Slater and Ptarmigan Bell Pottinger in Yorkshire and the Midlands.

His blog is an honest assessment of the state of the regional press, and like me, he takes no pleasure in charting its demise.

Technology means that every business sector is changing fast and the media faster than most.

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VALENTINE’S Day is the loneliest night of the year.

If you are in a relationship.

Just think of all those crowded restaurants last night, full of people doing their duty but wishing they were somewhere else.

It’s the one night of the year when I’m happy to be single.

It doesn’t stop me making faux pas though.

I telephoned a PR man of my acquaintance at 7.15pm last night with a question. A rather earnest individual at the best of times, I could almost hear his grimace down the phone.

“I can’t stay on for long, I’m just about to sit down to Valentine’s Day dinner,” he informed me.

I excused myself and telephoned one of Yorkshire’s best connected corporate financiers with a query.

“You’re not about to sit down to Valentine’s dinner are you?” I asked.

“No, I’m just about to sit down and watch the football, what do you want?”

I excused myself again.

There’s no substitute for romance.