Judi Bevan

Investment special: Which shops to bet on as recovery begins

After a long, cold and sometimes lonely winter for shopkeepers, at last there are glimmers of sunshine. Retail sales volume surged in May as shoppers shelled out £6.8 billion a week, the highest figure since records began. Although the rise was partly a recovery from a miserable March and April, depressed by the coldest spring

Investment Special: Tough times for shopkeepers

The high street’s double-dip winners and losers As austerity bites, competition in the high street grows ever more ferocious. Only the nimble and well-financed can thrive. While January and February showed some improvement and sunshine helped boost sales in March, the trend looks likely to be lower again in April. ‘The situation remains fragile,’ said

Digging deep, finding profits

The great mining predators are on the prowl again, says Judi Bevan. The Chinese are on a spending spree in Africa. And there’s plenty of room for canny investors to make money by following the deals closely For those worried they have missed the move in mining shares – the FT mining index has nearly

Will the NHS respond to Dr Sykes’s treatment?

Corporate titan turned London healthcare chief Sir Richard Sykes faces his toughest challenge yet, says Judi Bevan — but he’s full of praise for the handling of swine flu Sir Richard Sykes darts across the hallway of the Athenaeum club to greet me. Lightly tanned, thin as a whippet, the former head of GlaxoSmithKline and

No time to relax for BA’s fighter pilot

British Airways staff have sometimes been accused of ‘working without enthusiasm’, says Judi Bevan — but you certainly couldn’t say that of chief executive Willie Walsh Before meeting Willie Walsh, I take a stroll round Terminal 5, marvelling at the vast, elegant haven of calm and efficiency it has become compared with the pandemonium of

‘These clouds will have a silver lining’

Judi Bevan meets Sir John Parker, who chairs National Grid and the Court of the Bank of England — and takes an optimistic view of the deepening recession Few people would have dared to walk out of lunch at the Savoy Grill leaving behind the irascible Lord King. Sir John Parker, the softly spoken Irish

‘Business only thrives when society thrives’

Judi Bevan hears the views of Paul Myners, the left-leaning millionaire art collector who has just become Gordon Brown’s City minister There is a telling mischief about the way the new City minister dresses. A double-breasted dove-grey pinstripe suit is worn with a white shirt worthy of a detergent ad, no tie but tasteful cuff

Nice pork, pity about the pizza

Judi Bevan finds her local Lidl discount store full of bargains — but not Boden-clad middle-class shoppers Intrigued by reports that the middle classes are shopping at the German discount stores Aldi and Lidl — and even stuffing their purchases in Waitrose bags — I set off to track them down. My nearest Lidl is

Can London be turned around like a troubled company?

Tim Parker, the bubble-haired venture capitalist hired to cut costs at City Hall and make Mayor Boris’s vision a reality, strolls down the curved walkway to greet me smiling widely, just like his photographs. Tall and rangy, this socialist-turned-capitalist, who is to be paid just £1 a year, is all charm and apologies for failing

The veteran batsman who just hates to lose

Judi Bevan meets Sir Martin Sorrell, the hard-driving Eighties entrepreneur who is still chasing acquisitions for the company he created, the advertising giant WPP ‘Building a company is the nearest thing a man can do to giving birth and nurturing a child to maturity,’ says Sir Martin Sorrell, the founder and chief executive of WPP.

Facing the flak at Terminal 5

Judi Bevan meets BAA chairman Sir Nigel Rudd, an Eighties entrepreneur turned City grandee who still relishes tough challenges — and has met several at Heathrow Sir Nigel Rudd, chairman of BAA and motor group Pendragon and deputy chairman of Barclays Bank, has a reputation for riding towards the sound of gunfire. ‘I like difficult

The entrepreneur’s art: buying, building, selling

Judi Bevan meets David Young, who served in Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet before chairing Cable & Wireless and creating his own successful private-equity business Few 75-year-olds supply and programme their grandchildren’s computers or keep in touch with the younger generation by text. But Lord Young of Graffham — the businessman who was parachuted into the cabinet

‘Emotions are key. It’s not just about sandwiches’

A tiny door marked ‘Pret a Manger Academy’ in the back wall of Victoria station leads up two narrow flights of metal stairs to a warm, colourful room where rock music is playing softly. Strangely shaped leather chairs scattered with fluffy cushions give the faint air of a bordello. This is the headquarters of Pret

Moral superiority in cheap plastic bottles

As the train trundled down to Littlehampton one warm summer afternoon in 1988, I was filled with excitement at the thought of meeting Anita Roddick. I had arranged to interview her for a book called The New Tycoons, which I was writing with my Sunday Times colleague John Jay, now my husband. Roddick was already

The last dotcom entrepreneur

Chilling echoes of the 2001 dotcom crash attended the flotation of the internet price comparison business Moneysupermarket.com at the end of last month. Simon Nixon — not the financial journalist of that name but the company’s founder — was jetting around America and Europe on his roadshow as the market started to wobble, spooked by

‘It’s a feeding frenzy. There’s so much money’

Judi Bevan meets a top estate agent who thinks only a terrorist bomb can stop the capital’s house prices soaring Peter Rollings is one of those glowingly fit and forceful people who emit an unrelenting positive energy into the air around them. ‘Yes, energy is my big thing,’ he says, enthusiastically. ‘I don’t see the

The elder statesman of open skies

In his measured, softly spoken way, Sir Michael Bishop is furious with the Conservative party for its plans to ration air travel. ‘There are few things less edifying than watching politicians jumping on a passing bandwagon,’ says the proprietor chairman of BMI British Midland, which holds the second largest number of take-off and landing slots

High-street icons are safe in private hands

Those who fear that private-equity bidders, if they secure control, will destroy national icons such as Boots and Sainsbury’s, might consider that J. Sainsbury fared pretty well as a private company for 104 years before it floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1973. Family control with its paternalistic overtones may appear different from highly

Barclays’ new head gardener

Marcus Agius was strolling round his Hampshire garden last summer when a headhunter rang to inquire if he would consider becoming chairman of Barclays Bank. ‘It took me a nanosecond to say yes,’ says Agius. ‘Barclays is a great brand and I love great brands; it’s 300 years old; it’s huge and it’s going through