The P&O CEO Bets His T M Lewin Shirt on his Business

Posted on Mar 19, 2022. by NTI

I caught up this week with two CEOs who should be particularly proud of their recent performances.

The CEO of P&O Ferries has distinguished himself of late, celebrating by buying a few T M Lewin shirts so he can be sure to look smart in court.

The CEO of T M Lewin shirts has had a partuicularly troubled couple of years, going for two Administrations in two, and is planning to take a P&O Ferry to the continent to get away from it all.

I chatted with both of them, as they unloaded about their difficult week. 

"So, Peter, there are reports that you used ex-British armed forces special services personnel to oust 800 members of staff from your company this week."

"Nobby, stand behind this gentleman and escort him from the lobby, would you?" Peter Hebblethwaite said in response, stuffing a rather direct letter from Kwasi Kwarteng into his jacket pocket.

"Before I leave - presumbly through the window - can I just ask if it was your voice on the pre-recorded video that sacked your colleagues to replace them with cheaper labour?"

"No comment. Nobby, do you have the ... 'equipment' we talked about?"

I felt a calloused and heavily tatooed hand on my shoulder: "One more thing; we know you are losing, what, £100 million or so a year, but wasn't that action inhumane and more than a little cyni ...whoah!" The floor came up towards me faster than I remember when I walked on it on the way into the building. I left in only a slightly more undignified way than 800 other souls duirng the week.

My next visit was to Sven Gaede of T M Lewin, who has become rather addicted to the process of Administration, enjoying, as he is, a second go around in two years. On the last occasion the shirtmaker ended up ridding itself of 150 stores, focusing on a much more profitable business plan of online sales. Now Sven is re-acquainting himself with Will Wright and Chris Pole of Interpath who are fronting the latest Administration.

"How are Will and Chris, Sven? I know them both well from the past."

"Who are you?"

"I'm Neil from the NTI newsroom. I just want to have a little chat about your business and your plans."

"You're a, what, 16" collar? Can I interest you in a couple of Oxfords? Why are there rips in both knees of your trousers?"

"Why don't people want to buy your shirts online? Aren't they very good? Will Wright says that mens apparel has been one of the hardest-hit parts of the retail sector, as work-from-home measures and restrictions on events meant demand for suits and formal tailoring waned. Wasn't that obvious when you went to the wall last time? Couldn't you have adapted your business to the new market?"

"We have about 500 double-cuff check shirts you could look through. You could have the lot for a tenner ..."

"Is it true that M&S and Next are looking to buy your brand?"

"Look, I'm due on a ferry in an hour or so, you'll have to leave. Can we call it a fiver and I'll throw in some collar studs?"

"Where next for you, Mr Gaede?"

"France, I hope ..."

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