Blog: One step forward, two steps back

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

blogspetrieAs promised by John Towers back in March, MGR has finally added a fifth member of the board. New non-executive board member Nigel Petrie has been appointed with the intention of ensuring that the there is a move to “to improve oversight of its board.” The “Phoenix Four”, as they were nicknamed, sparked controversy over their £12.95 million personal pension fund allowance. The press had a field day over the matter, and in the end John Towers was asked to explain the company’s actions to a Westminster Parliamentary Select Committee. One of Towers’ statements was that in order to ease public, press and union concerns over the board members’ actions, Phoenix would appoint an “overseer”. Welcome, then, to Nigel Petrie.

So what will Mr Petrie do for MG Rover, apart from collect a £50,000 per year salary? More than anything else, it seems that his appointment may well be simply to appease those doubters out there that feel the “Phoenix Four” are not looking after the company’s interests, but merely feathering their own nests. And that being the case, his appointment is a brilliant one, because a cynic would say that for £50K per annum Phoenix has bought itself a nice deflector shield for the management. Certainly, the Unions are pleased by his apppointment: Dave Osborne of the Transport and General Workers Union stated, “We believe the appointment of an independent non-executive director will assist the company in restoring the confidence of workers, customers and investors.” In other words, the unions are onside…

Personally speaking, the cynical view is not the right one: the Phoenix board looks to all intents and purposes like it genuinely wants MGR to succeed, and Nigel Petrie’s appointment is a public affirmation of this view.

…a cynic would say that for £50K
per annum Phoenix has bought
itself a nice deflector shield for
the management

So it makes for positive publicity for the company.

Sadly, this announcement came around the same time as MGR annouced that it would be making compulsory redundancies at Longbridge. This is in direct breach of a High Court ruling, and the original “jobs for life” agreement penned years before the current incarnation of MG Rover was formed. This contract is a hang-over, and in 21st-Century Britain, something of an anachronism. However, whether that is the case or not, MG Rover could have timed the announcement with more skill: it is a business, and it needs to make decisions beneficial for the long term success of the company, but an element of PR also needs to be taken into consideration. So, several contracts are being terminated at the end of July, and some white collar workers are being made jobless. Sad news for the workers, but MG Rover is showing that it is prepared to act in the typical post-union way towards its employees…

Whether the decision is right or wrong is irrelevent; the fact that this has gone public at the same time as Mr Petrie’s appointment shows, yet again, that MGR’s PR department needs to work harder. One bad piece of news always more than cancels out a good one.

MGR: Why didn’t you wait until the end of August? D’oh…!

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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