Gerald Ratner

CEO of Geraldonline
Gerald Ratner
  • Local:

    Under $10,000*

  • US East:

    $10,001 - $20,000*

  • US West:

    $10,001 - $20,000*

  • Europe:

    Under $10,000*

  • Asia:

    $10,001 - $20,000*

  • * This specific fee falls within this range. Ranges are presented as a guideline only. Speaker fees are subject to change without notice. For an exact quote, please contact your Leading Authorities representative.

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Twenty years on, Gerald Ratner’s gaffe is still famous in the British Retail industry as an example of the value of branding and image over quality. Such gaffes are now often referred to as “Doing a Ratner”.

His story of Riches-to-Rags disaster at his very own hands fascinates and intrigues. It will be an inspiration to many who have experienced rejection, loss and humiliation. Gerald Ratner has come full-circle and is enjoying success second time around.

He is in the press and media more often now for being successful than for self-sabotaging his own business. A musical documentary and TV series are testimony to that.

Gerald’s story, in his own words, (biography style) in three main acts:

The Ratner Years: Gerald’s early London family life where he left school with no qualifications to run the shop with his father in Richmond. Eventually they built the business to 100 shops throughout the 60’s and 70’s but Gerald was instrumental in modernizing the business and gave the chain a whole new look in the 1980s: accessible, affordable and profitable. He rode the 80’s boom and took the family business to a new level, buying-out H Samuel, Ernest Jones and Watches of Switzerland amongst others to become Britain’s largest high Street jeweller with over 50% of the UK market. 1990 saw the recessionary hangover at the end of the 80’s party with all retailers struggling. Gerald’s much-publicized speech to the Institute of Directors in 1991 of course spelled disaster for him and the company. This will be covered in full, including the immediate aftermath where he struggled to crisis-manage the situation which, in his words, was like re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.

The Wilderness Years: After 18 months of failed damage limitation attempts, Gerald was finally fired from his own company by the Exec Chairman he had employed. He was hung out to dry by the Press not only the tabloids, but respectable broadsheet and business press joined in the condemnation. He lost everything and was reduced to staying-in watching Countdown in the afternoons, depressed, ostracised and bewildered. He attempted to find work with 50 different companies, all of whom rejected him outright. He tried to buy a site to start a health club in Henley but no bank would back him as he had no covenant. That is until he devised an ingenious way of raising some capital.

The Comeback: Gerald eventually bought and developed the health club then sold it 3 years later for £3.9m. This was the start of his comeback. He then started his online jewellery business after a fellow jeweller did some market research showing Ratners was still, over 10 years after the event, the most publicly-recognized name in jewellery retailing. However, he was blocked from using his own name by his old company and had to settle for GeraldOnline which today is turning over some £25m and is the number one UK Online jewellery retailer.

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