Reading the financial page, 1963
Laura Slattery looks at the very first business page on May 20th, 1963 and gets behind some of the stories of that first day
1: “Mr Charles Stanley, the head of British Electronic Industries (the Pye-Ekco group), Sunbeam Wolsey, Unidare and Pye (Ireland), will soon be back in Ireland for the annual general meetings of Unidare and Pye (Ireland).”
The lead story is an interview with veteran industrialist Charles Stanley (1899-1989), who was from Cappoquin, Co Waterford, and was mostly associated with a Cambridge-based radio and television manufacturer called Pye. Stanley ensured that the company, originally named Pye Radio Ltd, capitalised on both the BBC’s experiments in television in the 1930s and, in the 1950s, from the advent of commercial television. British Electronic Industries, formed in 1960 from the merger of Pye with the manufacturer Ekco, produced domestic sets, transmitters and other products.
Later, competition from Japanese electronics firms undermined its business model, and when Dutch firm Phillips acquired control of the company in 1967, Stanley retired.
The First Irish Times Financial Page
2: “I asked Mr Stanley for his views on the Irish budget . . . ‘I believe the Government have been carried away by the upturn in the economy over the past couple of years. I do not think the sales tax is big enough to have any effect on spending but it should . . . not have been imposed on staple things like food and tea.’”
VAT was not introduced until 1972, but the budget that had just been delivered by the Fianna Fáil minister for finance Dr James Ryan in April 1963 was historic in that it brought in a single “sales tax” at a rate of 2.5 per cent. From the very start it was recognised that such a tax would be passed on by retailers to consumers, hitting “the weakest back and the most slender income”, as the former Labour Party leader William Norton put it.
Garret FitzGerald, analysing the budget for the newspaper in April 1963, called it “certainly one of the toughest budgets we have had to face in Ireland”.
3: “One City Editor who almost invariably ‘shifts the market’ is Nigel Lawson in the Sunday Telegraph. Yesterday, he suggested Colvilles, the £80,000,000 steel group, on the strength of new orders from Ford for its Scottish-produced sheet steel.”
Nigel Lawson, now in his 80s, is best known for being chancellor of the exchequer in the Thatcher government from 1983 to 1989. In 1963, Lawson was a 31-year-old journalist married to Vanessa Salmon, heiress to the J Lyons & Co business empire, and at this point they had three small children, the middle of whom was three-year-old Nigella.
The company he tipped in his Sunday Telegraph column, Scottish-founded iron and steel company Colvilles, was nationalised for a second time in 1967, becoming part of British Steel. It is now owned by Indian multinational Tata Steel.
4: IRISH COMPANY NEWS - Dickens Leather: “Dr A Casey, chairman of Dickens Leather, takes a confident view of the future in his yearly report to shareholders. In 1962, the company made a net loss, after tax adjustment of £22,500. But the directors now believe that most of the difficulties which the company faced in 1962 have been overcome, says Dr Casey. “He adds: ‘The scheme of reorganisation consequent on the merger with Eblana Tanneries . . .’”