By Robert Head
Strikes in the coalmines, docks and car factories – to mention but a few – knocked British Leyland Motor’s profits from £32 million last year to between £25 million and £30 million this year. No wonder the boss , Lord Stokes , said yesterday that if he weren’t ‘an optimist, and a patriot’ he would have jumped from his third floor flat or his sixth floor office long ago.
Whatever profit British Leyland finally shows this year , it won’t add up to much more than £2 on every £100 worth of the company’s sales. By contrast, Marks and Spencer make makes £12 on every £100, Woolworths £11, Butlins £18. Even Tesco in the cut-throat supermarket trade makes £6.
There is more money and less risk in selling things than in making them. Lord Stokes said yesterday: ‘Building up an industrial organization is not an in and out operation like property speculation.”
Funny he chose those words – for a year ago I called British Leyland ‘an in and out share rather than a lifetime’s investment.”