In 1991, Gerald Ratner made a landmark speech to the Institute of Directors
After over 25 years in the jewellery trade, Gerald Ratner was one of the most well-known and successful retailers of his generation. He had built up a highly profitable, multi-million pound international business, including household names like Ratners, H Samuel, Ernest Jones, Watches of Switzerland, as well as over one thousand stores in the US. Being asked to give the keynote address at the Institute of Directors' annual conference at The Royal Albert Hall was a great honour and should have been the crowning glory on two decades of empire building.
Gerald's speech was seized upon by the media after he included jokes about the quality of some of the shops' products. But the far-reaching impact that these jokes would have no one could have predicted.
"Even though I had once had my name above hundreds of shops up and down the country, it had become more famous as a byword for crap. It took several years to realise just what an impact the speech had had on every aspect of my life."
Press coverage of hardback version:
"... a rollicking good read"
—Michael Skapinker, The FT
"Most business autobiographies are so overlaid with ghost-writerly blandness that the character of the subject is lost. Mr Ratner had help with this one, but fortunately he is still there: obsessive, funny and a bit of a scoundrel - the last mitigated by how well he knows it."
"self-effacing, revealing and human"
—Luke Johnson, FT Business Life
"A few ill-chosen words to a well-heeled audience 16 years ago reduced Britain's biggest jeweller to poverty. Now he reveals how he bounced back"
"...contains lessons for us all"
"...worth its weight in gold"
"Everyone knows the story of Gerald's rise and fall - what an amazing story and well worth reading.... I couldn't put it down, totally gripping and inspiring stuff, you really couldn't see this coming from such an energetic, passionate man"
"I have read many bio's from business leaders and most are boring 'how to get rich' or 'let me tell you a long list of not very interesting stories with all the good bits missed out'. Gerald's book is very different it is a great read, I could not put it down"
"Sobering and enlightening at the same time. A great read and a morality tale of our time."
- Wiley, February 2010
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