Judge and Jury: Rolls-Royce sale will roll on thanks to expert handling - Vickers appeared to handle the announcement of the sale of Rolls-Royce very adroitly but maybe the UK population has just become less Eurosceptic, say Lyle Closs, acting managing di

Since 27 October, Vickers PR team has taken hundreds of calls from the media and the public. Only a small percentage were concerned that the Rolls-Royce marque of excellence might be lost to the Empire. Some, with a simple faith, suggested it should be sold to Richard Branson. I suspect these people are connected with the Eurosceptic portion of the self-depleting Conservative Party. They are certainly out of step with the general response which has been that the move makes excellent business sense, both for Vickers and for Rolls-Royce .

Since 27 October, Vickers PR team has taken hundreds of calls from

the media and the public. Only a small percentage were concerned that

the Rolls-Royce marque of excellence might be lost to the Empire. Some,

with a simple faith, suggested it should be sold to Richard Branson. I

suspect these people are connected with the Eurosceptic portion of the

self-depleting Conservative Party. They are certainly out of step with

the general response which has been that the move makes excellent

business sense, both for Vickers and for Rolls-Royce .



Bombast and outrage must have been feared by Vickers. Its preparations

seem to have been comprehensive and well targeted. Sir Colin Chandler

made more time available than is generally conceded by chairmen to their

external communications functions. The results prove yet again that the

right spokesperson well placed is worth more than a lifetime’s press

releases.



Labour won the last election by understanding the mood of the nation and

reflecting it. In the hard-to-plan movements of economic fortune the

country’s mood upswing appears to have been led by new Labour. Timing

and luck are sometimes difficult to separate.



Vickers has chosen its timing well. The sale of Rolls-Royce fits the

company’s strategic intent to concentrate on its core businesses and

comes when Rolls-Royce is strong. It cannot be accused of failing in its

stewardship of the marque, nor in its understanding of what Vickers is

and where it is heading.



Most intriguing is the way a nation changes. The Sun blustered a little,

but away from the front page. Most found little to reject in the Vickers

proposition. The angle that would once have been swung like Boadicea’s

sword was left mouldering in the attic along with Eurosceptic

lances.



Shareholder value. Responsibility to the brand. Return on investment

demands. Long term core business commitment. These are business

terms.



But they are also, now, terms that imply an international

imperative.



Vickers has been able to ride the wave of understanding that the nature

of being an island people has changed. Once an all-encompassing reality,

it is now a comforting metaphor with limited value in today’s European/

global/political/business worlds.



Vickers’ luck is that it is selling Rolls-Royce at a time when the

country’s appreciation of Britain’s place in the world has changed. The

fact that the country is largely accepting of the sale suggests that

many politicians have not yet comprehended the changes that have been

wrought in the minds of their constituents.



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