Saturday 29 April 2017

Maurice Pratt

HARRY LEECH

Maurice Pratt was a high-flying ad exec at Des O'Meara and Associates when, at just 26, he was poached by Quinnsworth to become the face of the supermarket group.

He went from making ads to starring in them, with his "that's real value" catch-phrase and yellow-pack branding becoming TV staples in dreary 1980s Ireland. Pratt was kept on when Tesco bought Quinnsworth in 1997 and the continuity helped Tesco gain acceptance from an initially sceptical Irish public.

He left to become CEO at drinks business C&C in 2002. Results there initially seemed promising. Sales of Bulmers rose on the back of good summer weather and a catchy advertising campaign, something Pratt clearly has an eye for. The company went public in 2004.

Pratt was awarded Business & Finance's Businessperson of The Year award in 2006 and the Marketing Institute's Marketer of the Year in 2007. But despite the gongs, all was not well at C&C.

The firm first blamed bad weather for the steady decline in Bulmers and Magners sales, but was heavily criticised for its poor distribution in the UK. After investing €200m in the company's Clonmel production facility, it was realised that sales estimates were far too high. C&C's share price went from a high of €13.90 to a low of €1.02 when Pratt finally stepped down in 2008.

While he seems to have been here forever, the Foxrock man is just 54 this year. He may have more time to focus on golf and tennis since he left C&C, but there's no sign of him winding down yet. Despite a lack of banking experience he was appointed non-executive chairman of Bank of Scotland (Ireland) in 2006.

He currently holds six other directorships, including at Brown Thomas and Uniphar.

Sunday Independent

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