Gerald Ratner

After Dinner & Event Speaker (in association with SpeakOut)

Gerald Ratner was not just a good business man, he was one of the country's most successful and many would say the first UK Celebrity Businessman and Entrepreneur.

He took over his family's jewellery business in 1984 which had at that time 130 stores. By 1990 it had 2,500 stores, 25,000 employees, annual sales of 1.2 billion and profits of 121 million. Unfortunately he went down in history along with the company (he was then Chairman-Chief Executive of Ratners Group, the world's largest jewellery retail company which included H Samuel and Ernest Jones), when at a corporate speaking engagement in 1991 at the Albert Hall for the Institute of Directors, he described a sherry decanter (one of their products), as total crap.

This was not the first time that Gerald Ratner had cracked this sort of joke, as he had in the past been known to remark in private, that one of his earrings was cheaper than a prawn sandwich from Marks and Spencers. Unfortunately the Institute remark was made at a time when the recession was bitting hard and the media were on the lookout for scapegoats. The Daily Mirror put it on their front page the next day with The Sun following suit in their next editions.

Gerald was forced to resign from the family firm in 1992 after the joke had wiped an estimated five hundred million pounds from the value of the company and almost caused it to go bust overnight. He eventually had to sell his home in London and was treated as a total outcast by the business community. He said at that time... I sent off twenty CVs and I got twenty one rejections..

It would be a number of years before Gerald Ratner would start on another business venture.

In 1996 he set up a health club business, which he then sold for 3.9 million.

His most recent venture set up in 2002-3 originally called Ratner-Online saw Gerald team up with high street jewellers Goldsmiths. Renamed Geraldonline, it became the UK's largest jewellery on-line store. I took more than 3 million in its first three weeks and recorded over three million hits. Joining Gerald Ratner in the venture was to be Gary O'Brien, who served as a finance director during the last 18 months of Gerald's time as chairman of Ratners. The management team was to include Goldsmiths chief executive Jerzy Piasecki and Theo Paphitis, chairman of Rymans stationers and the La Senza lingerie businesses.

Gerald Ratner is very much in demand as a business speaker and when asked what advice he gives during his speeches Gerald said...You have to show a little humility and admit where you went wrong so that people can learn from your mistakes! I once bought some shops in Holland and expected bumper sales during December. When the takings were down I rang the manager over there and asked him What's up? Dont people buy each other presents in Holland to celebrate Christmas? He replied Er, no, actually, they don't. Didn't you know? But I have also had some notable successes and a lot of experience in business, so I can talk about that...

Its a wild, up and down roller coaster ride which Gerald Ratner now in his mid 50s talks about and he is not doing too badly now with his house, swimming pool and Bentley Continental GT in the drive and not forgetting his pedal bike which he rides every day when he can.

Gerald Ratner can still laugh at his mistakes - In 2006 he was on TV with his own show 'Doing a Ratner' on Sky One.

2007 saw the publication of Gerald's book (Gerald Ratner The Rise and Fall...and Rise Again) The book was an instant best seller and was serialised in the Sunday Times.

2009 saw Gerald staring in BBC's ''Comic Relief Does The Apprentice'' where he was the business brains of the boys team which included Jack Dee, Jonathan Ross, Gok Wan and Alan Carr. Business woman Michele Mone headed up the girls team which included Ruby Wax, Carol Vorderman, Fiona Phillips and Patsy Palmer of Eastenders fame.

To book Gerald Ratner contact Emkay Entertainments Agency via mark@emkayentertainments.net. Alternatively, speak to a booking agent directly on 01506 855 555.

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