Gerald Ratner: Biography highlights

Gerald Ratner is a British household name and a well-known businessman. He is also a name associated with one of the business world’s biggest falls from grace.

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Full biography of Gerald Ratner

Gerald Ratner’s Background

Gerald Ratner took over as CEO of the family jewellery chain in the mid 80s, becoming one of Britain’s best known businessmen. He transformed it from 130 stores with sales of £13m, to a public company with 2,500 stores and sales of over £1.2bn. By 1990, Ratner’s was the world’s largest jewellery retailer with profits in excess of £120m.

Following a high profile gaffe in which he described some of the products sold in the stores as ‘total crap’, he spent 18 months trying to do damage control but was eventually forced to sell the business.

He lost everything and was reduced to staying-in watching Countdown in the afternoons, depressed, ostracised and bewildered. He tried to buy a site to start a health club in Henley but no bank would back him as he had no covenant. That is until he devised an ingenious way of raising some capital.

Gerald eventually bought and developed the health club then sold it 3 years later for £3.9m. This was the start of his comeback. He then started his online jewellery business after a fellow jeweler did some market research showing Ratners was still, over 10 years after the event, the most publicly-recognized name in jewellery retailing. However, he was blocked from using his own name by his old company and had to settle for GeraldOnline which today is turning over some £25m and is ready to go public.

Today Ratner’s gaffe is still famous in the British Retail industry as an example of the value of branding and image over quality. Such gaffes are now often referred to as Doing a Ratner . His story of Riches-to-Rags disaster at his very own hands fascinates and intrigues. It will be an inspiration to many who have experienced rejection, loss and humiliation.


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1/2 videos
Gerald Ratner - Making a Mistake Worse Than Nelson
Gerald Ratner - Making a Mistake Worse Than Nelson
Gerald Ratner The Rise & Fall...& Rise Again | Full Interview
Gerald Ratner The Rise & Fall...& Rise Again | Full Interview
Mirus Media

“Delegates said it was the best speech they have ever heard.”


“A fascinating display of resilience, self-deprecating humour and lessons in ‘what not to do’. Gerald surpassed all our expectations.”

Denplan Limited

“A hugely enjoyable speech which captivated the whole audience with interesting stories and humour. Everyone that attended went away with something and the tone and style in which it was presented set up the rest of the conference superbly. Highly recommended.”

2011 CIMA Members in Practice Conference

“Gerald Ratner was absolutely fantastic. Holding the audience from the moment he began speaking, he launched our annual conference with a bang. Although filled with humour, his speech still told the story of a painful fall followed by a jubilant rise. He inspired our delegates to believe they can achieve whatever they want. A great speaker and a great man.”

Anthony Holdsworth FCMA

“A very few achieve exceptional success and enjoy extraordinary wealth. If you do it once in your life, then you’ve achieved something of note. Maybe 1% manage to do this. But… If you did it not just once… but did it TWICE? Then what
would that make you? Gerald Ratner did exactly this.”

Chris Cardell
Hennessy Marketing

“Probably one of the best speakers ever – Gerald Ratner was a charming and witty speaker who captivated us with his incredible story of success, failure and turning life around to become a multi million success story again.”


“Gerald was excellent. We have no hesitation in recommending him.”


“business awards. He delivered hisspeech in only 10 minutesbut it wasriveting, enlightening, humorous and thoughtful – and left the audience wishing for more. We will certainly use him again, and give him a longer time, but if you’ve only got a 10 minute gap to fill, he isthe man.”

Association of Bridging Professionals

“Gerald Ratner was awesome! The feedback has been amazing. A lot of chat on the attendees twitter pages. Truly

Hilary McCrea
William Reed Business Media

“A great story displayed in a humorous and very entertaining way! A controversial choice for some but very


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