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Tribute paid to John Wharton

mercado logoA tribute has been paid to John Wharton, former Mercado md who died late last year, aged 79.

'His forthright style of management did not always endear him to everyone, surpassing himself in union negotiations when he told a GMB official who had travelled from London for a crisis meeting with him "not to sit down as he would be staying that long," or telling a sales rep that he should not worry about not earning bonus as he (John) was paying more than that in tax,' says a former colleague.

'But there was another side to him. In the early 1990s, when the business was in debt and loosing money management arrived for a crisis meeting, all sitting around John's desk in their braces. At the time the company employed a deaf and dumb lad who worked in the warehouse and lived on a run down estate behind the warehouse. John used to look after him, drop him a fiver in his pocket when he passed him in the warehouse and took him home in his soft top Jaguar at Christmas, when he used to make him drive all round the estate with the top down in December looking for people he knew to waive at.

'John also told him that if any one bullied him in the warehouse he was to come and see him personally and he would sort them out. In the middle of the meeting in burst the lad swearing repeatedly.

'John politely excused himself and went out on to the balcony and in full earshot of the management delivered, as only he could, a tirade of what was going to happen to the warehouse lads if anyone as much as laid a hand on the lad and what he thought of them whilst he was in there trying to save their jobs. He then came back in sat down and asked: "Now, where were we?" as if nothing had happened. The suits went home shortly after in state of shock. After they had gone he produced a cut down 7-iron golf club he had had made for my six-year old son from under his desk because I had mentioned earlier in the week that he was interested in playing. A remarkable day etched in my memory.'

He is survived by his wife Marlene, son Gary and daughters Julie and Mandy and nine grandchildren.