ICI 'legend' Harvey-Jones dies at 83

The business world has paid tribute to former ICI chief and TV personality John Harvey-Jones, who died after a long illness.

The business world has paid tribute to former ICI chief and TV personality John Harvey-Jones, who died after a long illness.

Harvey-Jones, who was 83, died peacefully in his sleep yesterday, his agent said.

The renowned businessman was chairman of ICI from 1982 to 1987 but became best known for his BBC show Troubleshooter, in which he advised struggling businesses.

ICI chief executive John McAdam said: “Although I personally never worked with John Harvey-Jones, he was a legend within ICI, and held in very high esteem by everyone in the company. It’s very sad news.”

Director general of the CBI Richard Lambert said: “He brought a sense of adventure and dynamism to the bureaucracy of ICI and made some bold decisions.

“He subsequently became the acceptable face of capitalism through his television programme and brought the world of business to millions in an accessible way.”

In 1984, ICI became the first British company to post more than £1bn (€1.3bn) in full-year pre-tax profits under Harvey-Jones' chairmanship.

In 1988 he received the title of Industrialist of the Year for the third year running.

Knighted for services to industry, he also became honorary vice president of the Institute of Marketing, and chairman of The Economist from 1989 to 1994.

He turned to business TV, becoming a household name in the late 1990s with his Troubleshooter series.

He continued to serve in a number of posts after his retirement, including chairman of Britain's Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, a member of The Advisory Council of the Prince’s Youth Business Trust and as president of the MS Trust.

Chief executive of the MS Society in the UK Simon Gillespie said: “The MS Society is deeply saddened to hear of the death of Sir John Harvey-Jones.

“He has been an excellent leader and superb contributor to the work of the MS Trust and of our joint efforts to support and improve the lives of people with MS.”

Harvey-Jones, who lived in Wales, became well known for his outspoken leadership style.

In 2006 he hit out at Apprentice star Alan Sugar, branding him a power-exploiting bully. In an attack on business reality TV shows in general, he also dismissed the trend towards aggressive management styles on TV.

He insisted the ethos behind his shows was always one of constructive guidance.

He said: “It is not your job to exploit your position of power. It’s easy (to do that). My experience of life is that you get the best out of people by encouraging their self belief.”

He published a number of best-selling books, including 'Making It Happen', 'Getting It Together', 'Managing To Survive' and 'All Together Now'.

Chris Jones, chief executive of the MS Trust, said: “Sir John gave the MS Trust a huge amount of support over more than 10 years.

“He was hugely inspirational. It was a can-do approach which he brought with him to a new charity setting up and letting us know that we could do important things.”

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