Simon Wolfson: Next day Deliveroo?
News that the boss of increasingly online retailer Next is joining the board of rapidly expanding food courier Deliveroo set several stories running through the City this week. If Simon Wolfson is taking his first external directorship in 30 years, Deliveroo’s multibillion-pound float is stepping up a gear, went one. If Deliveroo wants more high-street knowhow, its recent partnerships with Waitrose and M&S may be more than just pandemic measures, went another. If Lord W is taking the role now, while Next is working on its own new technology, he’s looking to a different future, went a third. That last story was brought to an abrupt halt by Next colleagues, who insisted Wolfson was “completely absorbed” in his day job. Samuel Johar, the headhunter to whom all roads in the Square Mile lead, also said that the Next boss had both hands on the wheel. But City Insider has found one reason why Wolfson may feel more closely aligned with Deliveroo’s hardy bikers. His eponymous economics prize, for which he puts up £250,000, most recently posed the question: “How can we pay for better, safer, more reliable roads in a way that is . . . good for the economy and the environment?” It was won by the entrant who proposed a “pothole-free Britain” within 5 years. No wonder Deliveroo wants Wolfson in the saddle.
George Mallinckrodt: Holder of high office
Tributes to the late George Mallinckrodt, former executive chair of Schroders, recall a summons to Buckingham Palace to explain why the firm had replaced the Queen’s two fund managers. As the change postdated his tenure, and his honorary knighthood, it was evidently more a fireside chat than a dressing down. As The Times notes, Her Maj would probably have been pleased to learn that the managers left Schroders to join Cazenove, that most blue-blooded of stockbrokers — and, indeed, her own. Their reasons for departing seem somewhat old fashioned, though. Apparently, Schroders was going to turf them out of their own offices on to an open plan floor, denying them the privacy they had enjoyed. And perhaps also the sherry decanters. Could you imagine anyone finding that a problem today? Well, yes, suggests one senior financial services figure. He told City Insider: “After lockdown, no one’s going to want to go back to open plan. Everyone’s been at home in their own little offices and come to value being able to speak freely on the phone!” As indeed, did he. Who was he? I’m sorry, can’t tell you. That’s private.
Andrew Bailey: What is he on?
Wednesday’s discovery of a cannabis farm in a building near the Bank of England led to all the predictable online quips. “They hit the jackpot,” said one Twitter user. Several pondered “high interest rates”. Another suggested: “The City’s working hard on its green credentials.” Even bank governor Andrew Bailey couldn’t resist. “We are now going to be the subject of endless jokes about . . . what the Bank of England has been on,” he told a live web event. But what about the City’s wider reputation? News of the 800 plants on Throgmorton Street came on the same day the City of London Corporation published research showing the Square Mile could not be bettered for “Our global offer to business”. Based on a study of 91 metrics, London outscored New York, Singapore, Frankfurt, Hong Kong and Tokyo. How might the illegal crop affect the next ranking, though, especially as those metrics included “air quality”, “share of green spaces”, “happiness” and “regulatory coherence”?
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