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Gerald Ratner
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    (November 1, 1949- )
    Born in London, United Kingdom
    CEO of Ratners Group (1984-92), a British jewelry company
    Owned 1500 stores in Great Britain, 1000 in the United States
    Nicknamed ‘the Sultan of Bling’
    Founded an internet jewelry business, Gerald Online
    Wrote the memoir, ‘Gerald Ratner: The Rise and Fall…and Rise Again’ (2007)
    He was expelled from grammar school when he was thirteen.
    In a speech before the Institute of Directors, he said, ‘We do cut-glass sherry decanters complete with six glasses on a silver-plated tray, all for £4.95. People ask, ‘How can you sell this for such a low price?’ I say, because it’s total crap.’ (April 23, 1991)
    He added that Ratners’ earrings were ‘cheaper than an M&S prawn sandwich, but probably won’t last as long.’
    In the wake of the speech, sales dropped off so much that the company lost half its value, plunging from £1 billion to £500 million.
    He noted that the company became so identified with shoddy goods that people buying jewelry from Ratners would then buy a presentation box from a different store.
    He was fired from the company (November, 1992).
    To further distance itself from its ex-CEO, the company changed its name to the Signet Group (September, 1993).
    ’Doing a Ratner’ became British slang for screwing up royally.
    He started in the family business working behind the counter and noted, ‘I believe you have to start at the lowest level so you understand the grass roots of the business. You cannot order people around if you have never done what they have done.’
    He successfully revamped the company’s stores to appeal to a younger, working-class crowd and expanded from 130 stores to 2,500.
    After being forced out of Ratners, he started The Workshop, a chain of fitness centers that he sold for £3.9 million.
    He also became a motivational speaker: ‘Just hearing from someone who has recovered from the most spectacular failure seems to inspire people.’

Credit: C. Fishel

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