Summary of Next to Me

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Rating

7

Qualities

  • Overview
  • Engaging
  • Inspiring

Recommendation

David Jones, a leading executive in British mail order fashion retailing, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease on July 25, 1982, at age 39. In spite of that diagnosis, he remained a CEO of major companies for two decades. Jones’ interesting autobiography downplays his fight against Parkinson’s and focuses on his compelling career. While he covers little of his personal life, he gives an honest, detailed account of an almost confusing number of people, companies, trends and power plays from his professional life. The book is not chronological. Part I covers Jones’ dramatic efforts to rescue NEXT from bankruptcy. Part II reports on his childhood and early career, and Part III covers his later years as CEO, as well as his illness and his philanthropy. getAbstract recommends this straightforward professional saga, despite wishing that its forthright, gutsy author had told it in order.

About the Author

David Jones is the former CEO and current chairman of NEXT, a British fashion retail chain. He co-founded The Cure Parkinson’s Trust and is donating the proceeds of his book to Parkinson’s charities.

 

Summary

"Part I - 1986-1996: Rescuing NEXT"

David Jones rose through the ranks in mail order fashion retailing in the U.K. to become CEO of Grattan in 1981. At the time, its capital value was £25 million. By 1986, when it was acquired by NEXT, a major fashion retailer, its capital value was £350 million, a figure achieved after intense negotiations and stock maneuvering.

With the acquisition, Jones became NEXT’s deputy CEO. At first he got along with its CEO, the colorful George Davies. But in the ensuing two years, the business climate and the firm changed substantially, due to both consumer shifts and burdensome acquisitions. By 1988, the men were barely speaking. As NEXT’s fortunes dropped, the board ousted Davies. Jones became CEO, and spent most of 1989 and 1990, "just keeping the company afloat." Finally, he realized sadly, "If worst comes to worse, we could always sell Grattan."

To salvage NEXT, Grattan did have to be sold, and for at least £140 million. Sears offered £100 million to £115 million, but Jones told his mentor, NEXT board chairman David Wolfson, that he could get £140 million elsewhere. Although he had no immediate buyer, he has always believed that...


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