David Parkin on the demise of a business double act

ALL the best partnerships can’t last forever.

In showbiz, Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin split at the height of their success.

In the business world two dynamic duos that delivered some of the world’s biggest corporations are Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Paul Allen and Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Google.

Here in Britain we’ve had some great double acts like Rolls and Royce and Lennon and McCartney.

And what about the late Yorkshire Lords Hanson and White who turned the conglomerate Hanson Trust into a transatlantic powerhouse?

And so I have to solemnly report the splitting up of another great regional partnership.

That’s right, the Cagney and Lacey of Yorkshire business are no more.

The good news is that Caroline Pullich and Karen Swainston have only parted ways at Barclays because Caroline has a new role with NFU Mutual.

I dubbed the duo Cagney and Lacey after the famous New York TV detectives because they were always together at any business event I went to…and plenty I didn’t make it to as well.

Karen and Caroline took networking to a new level and, in her role as head of small and medium sized enterprises for Barclays in Yorkshire, Caroline was, in my opinion, the best known and best connected banker in the region.

She now takes her knowledge and connections to a new organisation, where she is managing partner at NFU Mutual based out of Boston Spa.

The role will see her lead and manage the office and team that look after the insurance needs of

individuals and businesses across Yorkshire.

Caroline has also taken on the role of senior group secretary for the local NFU branch.

NFU Mutual is the UK’s leading rural insurer offering insurance, investments, pensions and risk management services.

And don’t be fooled that the well-coiffured Caroline won’t want to get her hands dirty in the new role – she has three alpacas and a lively cockapoo called Coco.

In the photo above Caroline is pictured at her relatives’ farm in Haworth.

Dave Smith, NFU Mutual regional manager, North East, said: “Caroline brings 30 years ofexperience in professional and financial services having held senior positions at Barclays & NatWest.

“Entrepreneurial flair and ambition were key to appointing the new managing partner and Caroline has an extensive network and will be able to support the local farming and business community.”

Caroline, who is chair of Institute of Directors, North Yorkshire, a boardmember of Maggie’s Yorkshire and sits on the Leeds Chamber of Commerce leadership group, added: “I am excited about the new leadership challenge of setting the vision, values and strategy for the agency and building on a culture where we nurture our trusted relationships with farmers, growers, businesses, stakeholders and rural communities.

“Our focus will be supporting our customers providing the best service and emotional support together with the benefits of mutuality – one of the key strengths thatsets NFU Mutual apart from its competitors.”

The good news is that Caroline and Karen are still great friends and plan to continue their networking double act.

Which will inevitably mean some late nights and chunky bar tabs for me when I bump into them in future.


I WAS chatting with veteran stockbroker Keith Loudon OBE this week.

Even well into his 80s and despite suffering a stroke 18 months ago, Keith is as sharp as a tack and always talks common sense.

The chairman of national stockbroking firm Redmayne Bentley is a former long-serving Conservative member of Leeds City Council and an ex-Lord Mayor of Leeds.

So who better to provide an opinion on the current challenges faced by the Prime Minister?

“When Boris Johnson was elected he wanted to be all things to all men. And now he’s not much to anybody,” Keith told me.

“He should resign and William Hague is the right man for the job,” said Keith of the Yorkshireman and former Tory leader who now sits in the House of Lords.

Keith said I should ring Lord Hague and check his availability.

I couldn’t find him on speed dial so if you know the former MP for Richmond in North Yorkshire could you ask him if he’s up for it?

I think I know the answer but it is a great idea by Keith, who admits: “William Hague went into Parliament too early and left it too early.”

I don’t see anyone in the current cabinet who has more talent or experience.

Or should that be any talent?


I READ the other day in an email from Harrogate news website The Stray Ferret, that the Italian restaurant in the town bearing the name of “celebrity” chef Gino D’Acampo is going to close later this month after more than four years.

Gino D’Acampo My Restaurant at the bottom of Parliament Street is one of five of the TV personality chef’s restaurants to close.

It reminds me of when Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant chain shut its doors a few years ago.

Poor service and unremarkable food seemed the reason, even though Jamie Oliver blamed Brexit.

I’ve only been to the Gino D’Acampo restaurants in Harrogate and Leeds a few times but wasn’t impressed – the staff seemed to have high level training in how to avoid customers and the bill made your eyes water more than any chilli oil they put in the prawn linguine.

Well at least Gino D’Acampo turned up at the restaurants that carried his name every so often – I remember someone stopping me in City Square one Friday morning to inform me, rather breathlessly, that they had been “partying” with Gino, Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield at the restaurant in Park Row the previous evening.

I wasn’t impressed.

But then there would have needed to be A list celebs like Bernie Clifton and Duncan Norvelle there to do that.

After opening the Harrogate restaurant in 2017 D’Acampo claimed it was the only “proper Italian” in Harrogate.

Well, the only “proper Italian” with photographs of Gino and his celebrity plans plastered all over the walls.

His comments sparked a furious backlash at the time from a number of Harrogate’s Italian restaurant owners.

And I’m not surprised.

Why anyone would choose to go to his place when Harrogate has great independent high quality Italian restaurants like Gianni’s Brio, Sasso and Stuzzi?

I doubt the closure will affect Gino very much.

While the openings made much of the restaurants belonging to him, I think he did a similar deal to Jamie Oliver and sold his name to a group which wanted to roll out a chain of Italian-style restaurants.

Which is why Individual Restaurant Group, which owns Gino D’Acampo My Restaurant in Harrogate, will reopen it as another of their eaterie brands Piccolino, after a suitable period of mourning, on Monday.

Individual Restaurant Group also owns the Restaurant Bar & Grill chain.

Given that it changed the Parliament Street property from an RBG to a Gino D’Acampo, the company will be hoping that its third coming as a Piccolino is going to work.


A NICE looking parcel was delivered the other day and when I opened it there were two items inside, one of which won’t last long and the other which won’t get much use.

They were from Jonathan Sands OBE, who founded design consultancy Elmwood in Leeds more than 40 years ago.

Last year Elmwood announced it was demerging its business and the move meant that, for the first time since 1977, the Elmwood name is no longer based in its home city.

Instead, global business operations were shifted to its studio in London and the consultancy’s studios in Singapore and New York.

The Leeds and Melbourne branches of the business now operate independently of the Elmwood name – giving the “next generation of Elmwood leaders the chance to run the show”, according to consultancy founder and lead shareholder Jonathan.

The Leeds and Melbourne studios now operate under the new brand name of “Born Ugly”.

I was fortunate to do some work with Elmwood a few years ago and have always followed the progress of a creative business that has worked with some of the world’s biggest brands and which was a key part of Leeds-based Asda’s rapid growth to become one of Britain’s biggest supermarkets during the 1990s.

Jonathan is also a fellow Derby County fan and given the travails of our football club I’m not surprised the accompanying note added: “Let’s not talk Derby County.”

And as part of celebrating the birth of Born Ugly, Jonathan and his colleagues sent out a package to clients, contacts and friends which included the word “cheers” and its equivalent in many other languages along with a small bottle of Laurent Perrier champagne and a tin cup – which reminded me of one I used to take on Cub and Scout camps – bearing the words: “I’ve got an Ugly mug”.

Now, of course, the champagne won’t last long but I’m not so sure the mug will become my office drinking vessel du jour.

A phrase like that may encourage others to attempt to ridicule me.

Even more than they do already.

Have a great weekend.

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