‘Pro Business Against Greed’ was started because Sir Mike Darrington saw how things had changed during the 24 years he had run a large public company. He noted how a shift towards marketplace comparisons had brought about a massive acceleration in the growth of executive pay, unrelated to executive performance, while at the same time, there seemed to be a distinct deterioration in both customer service and value for customers in many companies.
Mike’s career started when he joined United Biscuits as a chartered accountant. He went on to work for the company for 17 years in a variety of roles, during which time he attended an intensive course at Harvard Business School. His final role with United Biscuits was to successfully turn around a loss-making subsidiary in Liverpool, with a workforce of around 2,000 people, without making a single redundancy.
Mike went on to join Greggs in 1983 as Group Managing Director, with the company going on to be floated in May 1984. By the time of Mike’s retirement at the end of July 2008, Greggs employed around 19,000 staff, with a turnover of £600 million. A further measure of Mike’s achievement at Greggs was a rise in the company’s share price in the same period from £1.35 to nearly £40 – this near 30-fold increase being almost 60 times better than that of the FTSE100.
Mike has long been a keen supporter of ethics in business and felt that by putting values at the heart of the organisation, Greggs employees would make a positive difference for themselves, their customers, and the wider community. After previous significant involvements with the CBI and Business in the Community, he is now engaged in a number of charitable activities, including the Prince’s Trust, and community projects. He received his Knighthood for service to Business and the Community in 2004.
Upon retiring, Mike made it his mission to set about addressing the issues around excessive executive pay, using his unique experience and background in business to make a positive change.