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June 13, 2012

At the Sharp End: Jimmy Thomas

By Spear's

Q. What would your other career be?
A. Inventing and designing.

Q. Who is your greatest influence?
A. Simon Thomas, my son — we’re a great partnership. He joined the company after university and two years with a merchant bank and brought a modern outlook to the whole business.

Q. What is your biggest fear?
A. Unrestricted casino gambling in UK betting shops. It’s out of control and doing so much harm.

Q. What is missing in the world?

A. Religious unity.

Q. In a year, the UK economy will be…
A. Climbing fast, as long as we keep this stable government.

Q. Is business a pleasure?
A. I live my business. Other than my family, it remains my main (sometimes I think only) real pleasure in life.

Q. How many assistants do you have?
A. One, my PA of 35 years, Shirley White, who knows just how I think and acts accordingly. She’s a gem.

Q. Who makes your shirts?
A. Brioni.

Q. Philanthropy should be…
A. Charitable giving — but the government has to stop charging VAT on donations as they’re spent. I think it’s criminal and absurd.

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Q. My business mantra is…
A. To be present. I don’t agree with arms-length business owners.

Q. Who do have on speed dial?
A. My family and a long list of good restaurants.

Q. Which watch do you wear?
A. A Rolex given to me by my wife 29 years ago for our silver wedding anniversary.

Q. Where do you summer?
A. The south of France.

Q. What is your favourite hotel suite?
A. The Oliver Messel Suite at the Dorchester — when it’s available!

Q. What is your guilty pleasure?

A. Shooting and cameras.

Q. When I drive, I drive…
A. A Mercedes Sports.

Q. My greatest success in business was…

A. Making my first million two years after starting business with just £35 in the bank.

Q. My greatest failure in business was…
A. Not keeping my savings in gold. An adviser — I will not mention the company — persuaded me to change.

Q. How are you right now?
A. Excited about the opening of our new Hippodrome Casino in London, which will be the finest leisure complex in Europe.

Q. Which restaurant is indispensable?
A. Poissonnerie de l’Avenue in Chelsea.

Q. Where in the world are you happiest?
A. Home.

Q. How did you earn your first pay cheque?
A. I’ve never had one. That’s what being self-employed means.

Q. To me, wealth means…
A. The ability to open more businesses — to be the best.

Q. Spear’s is sharp and to the point. I am…
A. Still ambitious, but very satisfied with what I have achieved in life, both business and personal.

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