They’re at it again. The faceless ones have moved in on yet another icon of British commerce and demanded that the brilliant founder, the man with ideas, the man with drive, the man with initiative, falls on his sword and departs from the huge business which he created. This time it is ASOS founder Nick Robertson who is being forced to leave “with immediate effect” – those chilling words, the modern equivalent of “et tu Brute” as the knives are wielded and the bloodied corpse collapses on the boardroom floor.
Who are these people – they are to a man (or woman) accountants and finance officers, people who have never had the wit to create anything. People who have never dreamt the dream, who have never inspired others with a vision of what can be.
Asos founded by Nick Robertson in 2000 became a global household name, with a turnover of billions and offices and warehouses in Europe, North America and Asia. But in March profits fell by 10%, hit by the cost of investment and the rise in sterling. So today Mr Roberson is out. replaced by a finance officer – one of the professionals who immediately blame anything from “currency headwinds” to “challenging circumstances” for the failings of the companies which they so mismanage.
And it happens time and time again. The faceless ones can not wait to get their hands on a company with a brilliant founder. Look at Marks & Spencer (MKS) – not a Marks, not a Sieff involved in the management and the result is that nobody shops there anymore – they all go to Primark. Tesco (TSCO), founded by “pile it high and sell it cheap” Jack Cohen and destroyed by an over ambitious chief executive who mistakenly thought he knew how to retail to California. Morrisons (MRW) founded by that brilliant lad from Bradford, our Ken who knew more about retailing than all the accountants in the Chartered Institute. Look at Morrisons now, since the numbers people took over.
No wonder Lidl and Aldi are having such an easy time. It explains a lot about the state of the UK economy., not just retailing.
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