People: The business diary

THE lure of the Scottish hills was clearly too much for intrepid outdoor pursuitist and property professional James Palmer, who is back at Buccleuch Property after a five-year stint in Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Georgia.

Shaken, not stirred may be the theme at Tessa Hartmanns vodka soiree. Picture: Neil Hanna
Shaken, not stirred may be the theme at Tessa Hartmanns vodka soiree. Picture: Neil Hanna
Shaken, not stirred may be the theme at Tessa Hartmanns vodka soiree. Picture: Neil Hanna

In fact Palmer, who is now an associate director involved in implementing a number of projects including infrastructure development at Shawfair and the redevelopment of Dalkeith Country Park, took full advantage of the access to the skiing, climbing and world-class mountaineering on offer in Kazakhstan.

“It was fantastic living there and experiencing such a different local culture and environment but it’s also good to be back in Scotland,” he said.

Go with what you know

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Scotland’s greatest ever Olympian, Sir Chris Hoy, has received some words of wisdom from John Clark, chairman of the eponymous motor dealership that enjoyed a 68 per cent surge in pre-tax profits last year.

Clark’s firm sponsors the Ecurie Ecosse team, which pits its BMW Z4 against the Nissan GT-R Nismo piloted by Hoy in the British GT Championship.

But after Hoy’s escapades at the recent Goodwood Festival of Speed, which saw the six-time gold medallist lose control of a £125,000 supercar and smash into straw bales, Clark said: “I think he should stick to pedalling.”

Way beyond flat pack

It is gratifying to note that in the modern computer-driven economy some of the oldest of skills are still being taught and producing business ideas. The Chippendale International School of Furniture near Haddington in East Lothian is turning out students making cabinets, tables and other wood products that are now going into production.

Among this year’s intake was Charlie Clark, a retired doctor and medical administrator from Glasgow. One of his graduation pieces was a Mackintosh-inspired chair, and he hopes to work on the renovation of the fire-damaged Glasgow School of Art. Ali Wilson, a 47-year-old former architect, retrained at the school and is now setting up a business in Ayrshire.

Bespoke furniture doesn’t come cheap but as the economy picks up there is a growing market among affluent customers who want something individually crafted and unique.

Anthony Glynn, 49, from Bath, sold a quirky “stiletto shoe” table, inspired by the French shoe designer Christian Louboutin, for more than £1,400 – as well as a Retro Danish-style cabinet for the same sum. He’s now setting up in business in his home town.

The school is also a place where students can stay on, making use of on-site incubation space and the expertise of teaching staff. “We want to give our students the very best start to their careers, and see it as an obligation to support them after graduation,” said principal Anselm Fraser.

Goosey galore at the Close

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A TURNOUT of well-kent faces is expected at this week’s VIP Martini party in Edinburgh being organised by French vodka company Grey Goose. It takes place at Devil’s Advocate, the bar restaurant in Advocate’s Close, recently renovated by property developer Chris Stewart.

Whether or not he will be on the guest list is not known, but our own business editor Terry Murden will be there, along with other journalists and media folk. Style guru Tessa Hartmann is another who is expected as her company Hartmann Media is hosting the event. As it’s a Martini event it would not be surprising if there are one or two references to James Bond, though no-one is expecting the superspy to join the party.

Leadership to a tee

Aberdeen Asset Management boss Martin Gilbert was among big hitters last week as he teed off in a charity challenge ahead of the Scottish Open, which his firm sponsored.

American Ryder Cup player Rickie Fowler and Scots Stephen Gallacher, Russell Knox, Paul Lawrie, and Martin Laird were attending ClubGolf’s VIP Challenge, an annual competition organised by the national junior development programme.

First Minister Alex Salmond was also present, along with 400 children, the majority of whom were attending ClubGolf coaching camps in Grampian and the Highlands.