David Parkin is totally en Vogue, sees a bit of Brass neck and bores some bankers

I WAS reading Vogue the other day.

Well where else do you think I’m going to get my style ideas?

And there in the pages of the world’s premier style magazine was a familiar face.

Well, two familiar faces.

One, Cate Blanchett, I only know from the cinema screen, but the other I’ve met before.

Razan Alsous is the Syrian refugee who arrived in Huddersfield seven years ago and has set up a successful business, the Yorkshire Dama Cheese Company.

Razan was a panellist at our event called The Business of Food and Drink for financial recruitment firm Woodrow Mercer last year.

I was introduced to her by Allison Kane of Deliciously Yorkshire which champions the food and drink industry across the region and Razan joined a great panel which included Marcus Black of Slingsby Spirit of Harrogate Gin, Stephen Fleming of artisan cheesemongers George & Joseph and Peter Ahye of Freaks of Nature.

I always said to Neil Muffitt and James Roach from Woodrow Mercer that I was ahead of the curve.

I make it about 18 months ahead of Vogue and Cate Blanchett.

Razan’s halloumi-style cheese is incredibly tasty and the story of how she and her husband Raghid and three children escaped war-torn Syria to start a new life in West Yorkshire is one you can only marvel at.

Cate Blanchett, the star of Ocean’s 8 and Elizabeth, has interviewed Razan – who lives in Huddersfield and whose award-winning business in Sowerby Bridge now employs nine people – as part of her role as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations’ Refugee Agency known as the UNHCR.

You can read Cate’s article in Vogue here and you can also view the UNHCR film of the interview by clicking below.


It is uplifting, inspiring stuff.

The only problem I now have is delivering another A-list panel for Woodrow Mercer’s next event in March.

I wonder if Arnie’s free…?


CALL me a cynic, but I couldn’t help raise my eyebrows at news this week that Brass Agency has been acquired out of administration.

Reports said that a Manchester-based “agency collective” called Inc & Co has taken over the brand, website, assets and intellectual property of Brass, the Leeds marketing agency that went into administration last month.

No details were revealed of how much they paid for all this, but I would say that the value of any business in the creative sector is its people and its clients and as far as I’m aware, I don’t think Inc & Co has picked up any of these.

Although it has said it is “actively engaging” with former Brass employees.

I’m not hopeful that this move will see Brass rise like a phoenix from the flames.

As business ideas go, it’s got about as much chance of success as Jeremy Corbyn setting up a hot dog stall outside a synagogue.

Although what Inc & Co’s founder Jack Mason does have in common with Brass is that two of his previous businesses, app developer Dreamr and Redfishmedia, both went through insolvency processes.


WHEN I wrote about the collapse of Brass I mentioned that it was made particularly poignant by news that the agency’s retired co-founder Mike Baxandall had had a major heart attack the same week.

Sadly Mike, or ‘Baxi’ as his many friends and former colleagues knew him, died a few days later.

A cracking cricketer and diligent supporter of charities, Mike will be greatly missed.

I learned this week about another loss from the Yorkshire business scene.

Edward Klempka was a larger than life insolvency partner with PwC in Leeds.

He was a bon viveur and I remember interviewing him about his passion for collecting letters written in wartime by servicemen stationed overseas.

Eddie was part of a team at PwC that included Roger Marsh, Steve Ellis and Ian Green which dominated the insolvency market in Yorkshire for many years.

So much so that when former Chelsea chief executive Trevor Birch took over the insolvency team at Deloitte in Leeds he admitted to me in an interview that they could never compete with PwC.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Eddie and Roger had the newspaper clipping containing those words framed and put on the wall of their office – or Eddie’s other office in Sous le Nez.


WHEN I called into Yorkshire Bank’s Christmas drinks reception on Wednesday, I knew what to expect.

Plenty of warm white wine and vol-au-vents – it’s like Abigail’s Party without the moustaches and maxi dresses.

I was there to bid a fond farewell to Paul Grace and Andy Davidson who are both leaving the bank after a combined 60 years of service.

The pair, who have been huge supporters of my business, are both far too young to retire and so I await news of their next moves with interest.

In the meantime Andy, who spent a year seconded to the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, is returning to the organisation on a part-time basis in the New Year and I’m sure we can rely on him to keep reminding Boris Johnson of his pre and post election commitment to invest in the North of England.

At a time when the historic Yorkshire Bank name is about to disappear and be replaced by the vanilla Virgin Money brand and Yorkshire Bank’s head office on Merrion Way is being closed down, the bank can ill afford to lose people of Paul and Andy’s calibre.

They are not the only people leaving a business which might have a shiny new name but not the technology to back it up.

To call Yorkshire Bank’s online business banking clunky would be being generous.

So to hear from Kevin Hambling, the new head of business banking in Leeds, that the new Virgin Money online business banking system is not due for another six months was disappointing but not a surprise.


I ARRIVED at the Yorkshire Bank drinks reception full of the joys of Christmas and left it feeling like Tiny Tim before Scrooge’s transformation into his generous benefactor.

It wasn’t because it was a dull do, it was just a couple of the conversations I had left me feeling a little flat.

I bumped into Ajaz Ahmed who told me he had listened to my recent podcast interview with Chris Allen of Blacks Solicitors.

“I don’t know why I bothered, I’d heard all your stories before,” said Ajaz, who failed the exams to join the diplomatic service before going on to come up with the idea for internet service provider Freeserve.

Reeling from that blow I got into a short conversation with a couple of people which ended rather abruptly when one of them excused himself from the conversation because he said he had to “go and finish some admin”.

Now I’m not deluded enough to think I’m Clement Freud or Noel Coward, but I didn’t think I was that boring.

This blog is taking a break until Friday January 10th while I partake in mulled wine, sherry and mince pies and read the collected works of Winston Churchill and Oscar Wilde.

Have a great weekend and a wonderful festive season and I wish you great happiness, good health and success for the New Year.

Happy Christmas.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top