May 27, 2021
The saying goes that all publicity is good publicity but Gerald Ratner would tell you differently!
When Gerald inherited his family jewellery company in 1984, he expanded it from about 150 shops to over 2,000 in just six years, capturing over 50% of the UK’s jewellery market. He became known as ‘The King of Bling’ and was heralded as a business prodigy.
That was up until an eventful speech that Gerald made at an Institute of Directors dinner on 23rd April 1991, where he famously, or infamously, called one of his products ‘total crap’ in front of 6,000 business leaders and journalists, saying that one of the sets of earrings he sold was "cheaper than a prawn sandwich from Marks and Spencers but probably wouldn't last as long”.
The British media went to town on Gerald and even though he subsequently explained it was meant in good humour, the country’s sense of humour wasn’t great due to a very deep and dark recession…the public voted with their feet and the company’s shares dropped £500 million in a matter of days.
This very nearly resulted in the firm's collapse and Gerald Ratner was fired, lost his home, had to take his children out of school and was left severely depressed. It was only when his wife threatened to kick him out that he decided to change. He started a health club from nothing which he sold a few years later for almost £4million and is now involved in an online jewellery business called ‘Gerald Online’.
In this episode Kate chats to the legend himself to find out if he would have done anything differently 30 years on!