Gerald Ratner: Failure is the route to success

Gerald Ratner: Failure is the route to success

Posted: Wed 20th May 2015

Jewellery entrepreneur Gerald Ratner went down in business history in 1991 when he described one of his products as 'crap' during a public speech. But more than a decade on he is once again successful in business.

Enterprise Nation's Dan Martin met Ratner after his keynote speech at Business Showcase South West to talk failure and how to deal with it.

"We do cut-glass sherry decanters complete with six glasses on a silver-plated tray that your butler can serve you drinks on, all for £4.95. People say, 'How can you sell this for such a low price?', I say, 'because it's total crap.'"

With that short comment Ratner's life changed for ever. Around £500m was wiped off the value of the Ratners jewellery business, which also almost collapsed. Ratner sold his shares in an attempt to save the company, and was subsequently sacked by the new boss.

He spent seven years without work, but returned to success by starting a health club and selling it for £4m before setting up Gerald Online, an internet jewellery company that generates £25m in annual revenue.

Ratner's story is an extraordinary one and his career offers valuable lessons to all entrepreneurs about dealing with, and even benefiting from, failure.

Watch this exclusive video interview for his advice on handling life when business goes wrong, and insights into the secrets behind successful retail.


Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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