James Gulliver was among the most gifted Scottish businessmen of his generation, combining an acute and wide ranging intelligence with prodigious energy and drive. During his years as a top manager and entrepreneur he captured the interest of the City and excited the financial press through the scale and diversity of his commercial activities. Between 1973, when he formed his first investment vehicle, and his death twenty three years later, there was scarcely a year in which he did not initiate a number of high profile bids, mergers, investments and acquisitions. His most substantial achievement was the formation and development of the company now named Safeway plc, but known for nineteen years as Argyll Group plc. From the unpromising base of a modest investment in a Manchester meat business with very small profits and sales of around £20 million per annum, Gulliver and his team grew a company which reported in 1997 sales of over £7 billion, and profits of £420 million with a market capitalisation of £4 billion.
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