Gerald Ratner became a British household name after taking over his family’s jewellery business in 1984 which, at that time, had 130 stores nationwide.
By 1990 it had grown to 2,500 stores, 25,000 employees, annual sales of £1.2 billion and profits of £121 million. In 1990, Ratner’s was the world’s largest jewellery retailer and included the high street brand names H Samuel and Ernest Jones.
However, Gerald suffered a major setback in 1990 following a widely reported gaffe at the Institute of Directors where he compared some of the company products to M & S prawn sandwiches and described them as “total crap”. This resulted in heavy financial losses and ultimately he was forced to sell the business. However, after Ratner’s, he showed determination by picking himself off the ground and clawing his way back into business. Firstly, he set up a successful leisure centre in Henley on Thames and then in 2004 with an online jewellery company – geraldonline which remains hugely successful.
Gerald is an incisive and astute businessman and he draws on his experiences to talk about a number of topics. He speaks with candour, wit and captivates audiences with his incredible story of both his success and failure and how his gaffe has become a textbook case in business schools around the UK.