What Gerald Ratner did next

In the latest in a series of free seminars organised by IoD Liverpool, jewellery tycoon Gerald Ratner will talk about that famous speech almost 30 years ago, and what happened next

Gerald Ratner
Gerald Ratner will speak at an IoD Liverpool event


When Gerald Ratner stood up to address the Institute of Directors Annual Conference in April 1991 no one expected his speech would still be talked about almost 30 years later.

Mr Ratner has built his family business, Ratners, into a nationwide chain of bargain jewellery shops. In remarks meant to be tongue-in-cheek, the businessman said: “People say ‘how can you sell this for such a low price?’ I say, ‘because it’s total crap’.”

Once news of the speech hit the press, the consequences were swift and dramatic. The value of the Ratner Group plummeted by £500m and it came close to collapse. Mr Ratner was forced to leave the business.

Prior to that one slip-up, his track record had been impressive. He had taken a loss-making business and turned into into one generating £120m in annual profits in just eight years. He also developed and grew other well-known brands including H Samuel, Ernest Jones and Watches of Switzerland.

The saga offered invaluable lessons for the tycoon and the wider business world. And this month Mr Ratner will offer a fascinating insight into that speech and his career since in a free online seminar organised by the Iod Liverpool.

Presented by IoD Liverpool chair, David Wafer of McIver Scott Recruitment, the webinar takes place on Tuesday, November 17, between 9am and 10.15am. Click here book your place.

David said: “Gerald had truly revolutionised the jewellery industry and retail. The speech was remembered for two quotes in particular but the wealth of business lessons within that speech had been overshadowed. Many of lessons are still in use by businesses across the globe today.

“What lessons have been learnt, how did he manage at the time and how did he rise again? Gerald will take us on a journey that will show how he rose again and has reinvented himself and his business interests since including the publishing of two books with the later released on November 10.

“With many businesses under real strain, it will highlight the lessons learned in a crisis and how to go again.”

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