Business Diary: July 17

OUR recent story about the revival of Tower Works in Leeds brought back poignant memories for one 90-year-old Yorkshire Post reader.

Edmund M Butler, who lives near Bolton Abbey in the Yorkshire Dales, can recall Tower Works in its heyday.

His great grandfather TR Harding created Tower Works in 1864. For decades the family firm made carding and combing pins for the mechanised wool and cloth production industries. At its peak, the company employed 700 staff.

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The factory was damaged during air raids in the Second World War and output and production never reached pre-war levels. It ceased to trade in 1981 and the site was sold the following year.

Mr Butler, who was the last chairman of the company when Tower Works closed, is delighted by the fact that the site is being reborn.

The works, which is famous for its soaring Italianate towers, is enjoying a new lease of life as a home for fast growing firms in the digital and creative sectors, and developers hope it could soon become a place to live.

Mr Butler told Diary: “I’m quite happy with the proposals I have seen in the press. I’m happy that a certain amount of Tower Works is being retained for posterity.”

No golden goose

ACCORDING to the Yorkshire Gold quango, the London Olympics present Yorkshire “with a fantastic opportunity to grow, and ultimately prosper from the legacies that will be left by the Games”.

Ummm. Diary is sceptical of that rather bold claim and leans towards the view that the Olympics are a waste of taxpayers’ money and are of little lasting benefit to anyone other than corporate sponsors, which include the world’s biggest fast food firms, and property owners in a relatively small swathe of east London.

An investigation by the Yorkshire Post published at the weekend revealed the region’s businesses secured little more than half a per cent of the £6.9bn contracts on offer, with London and the South East securing the majority – nearly £5bn – of the funding.

Diary uses the rule of thumb that Yorkshire represents around 10 per cent of the UK in terms of key measures of population and economy.

So a measly half a per cent of available contracts – representing a paltry £89m – going to Yorkshire rather undermines any argument that the spoils would be evenly shared.

It looks like yet another sad, but frequent, example of public funds being gorged in London and the South East.

Lack of exercise

Horror stories of packed tubes and four-hour journeys have been doing the rounds ahead of the London Olympics.

Yet Diary’s spies report that far from London becoming a seething pot of humanity with bewildered Olympic tourists bumping into harassed pin-striped city types, the capital is preparing to put normal life on hold.

From accountancy firms to City PR consultancies, everyone is being advised to bring forward meetings or postpone them so there won’t be a clash over the two-week Olympic period.

Diary is being told that any listed companies that have to announce prelims or interims are cancelling the scheduled press conferences.

Meanwhile a large number of workers have been told to work from home.

All in all it looks like Londoners are preparing for a rather enjoyable fortnight “working from home”.

A tall story

WHEN translation firm AA Global Language Services won an order from a major client, it put its top man on the job.

Chief executive Kirk Akdemir took time out of running the firm, which has a new office in Hull, to support Guinness World Records on a tour of the Far East – accompanied by the world’s tallest man.

At 5ft 7in tall Mr Akdemir was dwarfed by Sultan Kosen, who at 8ft 3in is officially the tallest man in the world.

The result was high-profile coverage in newspapers from the South China Morning Post to the Wall Street Journal.

Mr Akdemir said his links with his native Turkey helped to attract his new client, as Mr Kosen is also from Turkey.

“We have a network of thousands of interpreters and translators and I generally concentrate on running the business, but I volunteered myself for this job, which is high-profile in every sense,” said Mr Akdemir.

“It’s fair to say Sultan kept me on my toes. Even when he was sitting down.

“We knew when we started speaking to Guinness World Records that any job for them would be a big one, but we never imagined it would be this big.

“He certainly made me appreciate the advantages of being medium height.”