CONTROVERSIAL entrepreneur Gerald Ratner told the south’s business leaders that they must learn from their mistakes in order to become a success.
The colourful businessman recounted the story of his rise, spectacular fall from grace and subsequent re-emergence as an online success to an appreciative audience.
In 1991 Mr Ratner gave a speech insulting the quality of jewellery that his firm the Ratner Group – including H Samuel, Ratners, and Ernest Jones – sold. Some £500m was wiped from the value of the company and Mr Ratner was fired.
He was keynote speaker at the Solent Business Growth Summit 2016, at the Ageas Bowl’s Hilton Hotel.
It was the third annual event, backed by four of the south central area’s big firms, designed to promote business growth in the region.
Hosts for the event were four companies with a strong operational presence in the region – law firm Trethowans, commercial property consultancy Hughes Ellard, Santander Corporate and Commercial Bank and accountancy, investment management and tax group Smith & Williamson.
Mr Ratner said: ‘You have to go through experiences and you sometimes don’t appreciate success until it is taken away from you.
‘No one is going to sail through life or business without a disaster – but if you do lose everything it is good to get it back. However, business won’t fall into your lap. It takes hard graft and is all about the silly little, boring details that many people turn their noses up at. Know your field and be prepared for a long, hard slog.’
The second speaker was entrepreneur Andy Lennox, who told attendees of his award-winning Koh Thai Tapas restaurant empire’s rise to prominence from a single outlet in Bournemouth in 2009 to 12 outlets today.
He said: ‘Forward planning – understanding where your future should be – is incredibly important. We had a brand vision, but have learned everything on the way.’
Trethowans senior partner Simon Rhodes said: ‘This summit was a very positive and inspirational event.’