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Christopher Hogg, British industrialist, 1936-2021

Sir Christopher Hogg, who died earlier this month, aged 85, once said running a listed company was “the biggest intellectual problem there is,” according to a former colleague.

As chairman of major UK companies, including Reuters, GlaxoSmithKline, and Allied Domecq, Hogg had the opportunity to use his unmistakable talent from the boardroom.

But his most experimental work was the refurbishment of Courtaulds, an industrial group. He worked as a manager, senior executive and chairman from 1968 to 1996, a time of turmoil in the UK and especially in the textile industry.

In doing so, he introduced the most efficient, data-driven, US-led professional management system, which was in demand in the UK at the time. He studied elementally at Harvard University, where he studied for an MBA. He was also a great follower of thinkers like Peter Drucker and Michael Porter.

Hogg can cut a proud and restrained person. As a young banker with Hill Samuel in the 1960s, he became known as the “shirt-shirt Hogg” and later became a “hatchet-man” for his stellar performances at Courtaulds, where he chased down his dismissal in the 1980s. .

To turn the company around, he brought in consultants with decentralized power, giving more responsibility than ever to unit operations managers, based on strict investment targets. He also made subtle changes in culture, directing canteen management to all employees eating together, forcing everyone to use names (usually “Chris”), and encouraging a new generation of employees. Changing the way managers think and act is “one of the biggest management tasks, it is very difficult to achieve”, he said. However, department officials called him a “head teacher” and called their monthly meetings, when they needed a change of function, “prayers”.

Hogg’s danger illustrates the magnitude of the challenge he faced when he was selected to run Courtaulds in 1979, aged 43, after already converting to International Paint.

Christopher Hogg, right, is pictured in 2000 during his time as Reuters chairman and former chief Tom Glocer © Michael Smith / FT

The group grew rapidly under its former promotion chairman Frank (later Lord) Kearton, who saw Hogg’s potential in the state-owned Industrial Reorganization Corporation, which aimed to revive British industrial competition. At the time, Courtaulds relied heavily on cheap pounds. The special reshuffle of the new Prime Minister of the Conservative Margaret Thatcher, whom Hogg loved, raised the bar price but disrupted Courtaulds’ business. In a decade, Hogg reduced the team’s staff by half. He did not care about human value, telling FT in 1981 that “you know you are moving or closing a business, closing down the revenue streams. It’s a sad thing to have them”.

Hogg also made a breakthrough plan to survive, removing Courtaulds from the pharmaceutical business and textile group in 1990. His former colleague Martin Taylor, who became Barclays’ chief executive, described the demolition program as “very bold”, given. financial problems. Nonetheless, it is about to reflect Hogg’s efforts to revive production in the UK. All Courtaulds companies were later taken over and taken over by foreign buyers.

Born in 1936, Hogg worked with the Parachute Party in the 1950s, seeing what was happening in Egypt in what he described in The Times as a “very violent military”, although he had never discussed it. He studied English at Trinity College, Oxford, before Harvard. His first marriage to Anne Cathie, with whom he had two daughters, ended in divorce. He later married Miriam Stoppard, a doctor and broadcaster, the wife of former playwright Tom Stoppard. Theater was a never-ending spectacle – his father was a theater producer – and Hogg brought his organizational skills to the chair of the National Theater from 1995 to 2004.

Hogg was one of the new non-executive chairpersons in the aforementioned companies, which was created by the corporate change of Sir Adrian Cadbury, who advised him. Then he sat down chairpersons of the Financial Reporting Council, which oversees administrative law, from 2006 to 2010.

Despite having great talent, Hogg became the leader of Reuters, a data and news team, eventually leaving him to be challenged. A man who tried to seduce people killed by Courtaulds has pleaded guilty to negligence, as Reuters share price and its costs dropped. He also had to protect then-GSK CEO Jean-Pierre Garnier from a bitter financial crisis in 2003. By 2005, he had resigned from both companies. The pilot once pretended to be the chairman of the annual meeting and jumped out of the plane: “If you do that and land, then it is not a problem, but it can always be the last.”


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