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Gerald’s comments at an IOD conference ranked top of The Sun’s list of the ‘50 biggest mistakes of all time.’ He now says that comparing his product to M&S prawn sandwiches (which cost the same but lasted much longer) cost him a billion pounds – “which in those days was a lot of money.”
Gerald Ratner took over the family jewellery chain in the mid 80s, becoming one of Britain's best known businessmen. He transformed it from 130 stores with sales of £13m to a public company with 2,500 stores and sales of over £1.2bn. By 1990, Ratner’s was the world's largest jewellery retailer with profits in excess of £120m.
Following a widely reported gaffe in which he compared his products to M&S prawn sandwiches, Gerald was forced to sell the business. Reduced to virtually nothing and shunned by banks and prospective employers, he eventually picked himself up and clawed his way back - first with a health club then with geraldonline. The internet jewellery business is now the largest in the sector, perhaps presaging a return to the high street.
After turning around his fortunes, Gerald talks with typical candour and a great deal of humour about the rollercoaster journey. He even raises a smile when he produces The Sun’s list of the ‘50 biggest mistakes of all time’ - in which his is ranked top!
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Conference Speaker Gerald Ratner after his Infamous Speech
Gerald Ratner Speaking about Conventional Wisdom