Twenty’s plenty for Bellamy at Reckitt, with suspicions the best years are behind it
Writes James Ashton
TWENTIETH anniversaries are in vogue. Jeremy Corbyn is talking up his chances of returning Labour to power two decades after Tony Blair entered Downing Street. The Bank of England has been busy defending its switch to independence in 1997 amid mutterings that the Treasury should take a bigger role in monitoring financial stability and policy.
In contrast, over at Reckitt Benckiser there has been barely a murmur as Adrian Bellamy reaches the big 2-0 as a board member of the Nurofen maker and its predecessor company. That’s because it is a milestone that nonexecutives are never meant to reach. Bellamy, the 75-year-old former Body Shop chairman, has chaired Reckitt for 14 years and his overall involvement is more than twice the length that the corporate governance brigade advocates as best practice. Given one of its brands is stain remover Vanish, you would think he would have taken the hint before now, only recently announcing a hand over next May to Mattel chairman Christopher Sinclair.
It is impossible to ignore Reckitt’s emergence as a £50bn health and hygiene superpower in the time that Bellamy has been in the boardroom. From the merger that created the business in 1999, to blockbuster acquisitions that added Strepsils and Durex condoms to its bathroom cabinet, shareholders have reaped giant rewards. So has the management.
Bellamy waved through the breathtaking £92m annual package for former chief executive Bart Becht – a sum that even Sir Martin Sorrell has yet to beat.
But as the old guard takes its leave, there is a suspicion that Reckitt’s best