Telling the truth about SME life today

Top ten business hiccups

1. The C5: Sir Clive Sinclair’s battery-powered tricycle, launched in 1985. Few sold thanks to a lack of roadworthiness.

2. Dasani: Launched in Britain in 2004, Coca-Cola’s bottled water was swiftly recalled in the UK – it contained bromate, a chemical linked with cancer.

3. Decca Records: A&R executive Dick Rowe turned down the Beatles in 1962.

4. Persil Power: Unilever’s new cleaning product was withdrawn after tests by rivals Proctor & Gamble showed it rotted clothing away.

5. Xerox: Managers turned down an electronic typewriter capable of displaying, storing and sending text in 1977, unconvinced about its commercial potential.

6. British Rail: When, in 1984, the firm unveiled the slogan, “We’re getting there” it backfired, undoing a five-year, £35m campaign on the eighties being the “age of the train”.

7. The founders of this Swedish online clothes store spent around £65m in venture capital before collapsing in 2000, among other dot-coms.

8. Barings Bank: As chief trader in Singapore, Nick Leeson built up over £820m in debt for Barings, sinking England’s oldest merchant bank.

9. British Airways: In 1997, BA replaced its union flag tailfins with ethnic designs – a hugely unpopular move with the public. The familiar flag motif was soon restored.

10. DeLorean: The UK government invested £65m into John DeLorean’s stainless steel sports car – it sent him bust in 1999, a clinker with 75mph max speed.

Source: IBM publication: Now we are 100 in association with the CBI.

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