Person: Smith, Sir Roland (1928-2003)

Name: Sir Roland Smith
Life dates: 1928-2003
Gender: Male
Occupation: academic and businessman


Roland Smith was born on 1 October 1928 in Manchester, the son of a police sergeant. He won a scholarship to Burnage Grammar School, and went on to Birmingham University to study economics. He then completed a PhD in economics at Manchester University. After two years' national service in the RAF, he took his first job, in 1955, as an assistant director of the Footwear Manufacturers’ Federation. This was followed, in 1960, by a teaching post as lecturer in economics at Liverpool University. In 1963, he became director of the University's business school. In 1966, he was appointed professor of marketing at he University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST), the first professor of marketing in the UK. He became chancellor of UMIST in 1996, a post he held until 2002.

In the late 1960s, Smith took on the first of many business interests. These began with consultancy assignments to such companies as Esso Petroleum, Rio Tinto Zinc, Trust House Forte and GUS. He quickly began to pick up company directorships, the first being the Glow-Worm Boiler and Tower Pans Group. In 1973, he became chairman of Senior Engineering, which he held until 1992.

In 1980, he joined the board of directors of House of Fraser Ltd and was appointed sole deputy chairman. In 1981, following the removal of Sir Hugh Fraser from the chairmanship, he became chairman of the company. There followed a four year struggle with Tiny Rowland of Lonrho for control of the House of Fraser Group, whose prize asset was Harrods. Smith resisted all of Rowland's attempts to unseat him and gain control of House of Fraser. In 1985, he recommended to shareholders that they should accept a takeover offer from the Fayed brothers. After the takeover, in June 1986, Smith resigned as chairman.

In 1987, he took over as chairman of British Aerospace, leading, in 1988, the ill-fated takeover of the Rover Group. He left British Aerospace in 1991, and became chairman of Manchester United plc, a position he held until 2001. He was a director of the Bank of England from 1991 to 1996.

Smith was married to Joan Shaw in 1954, and knighted in 1991. He died on 20 November 2003.


Moss, Michael and Turton, Alison, A Legend of Retailing: House of Fraser, London 1989
Obituaries in the Guardian, Independent and Times, 2003

Records held relating to Sir Roland Smith:

FRAS 718
Title: Message to employees from Professor Roland Smith, chairman of House of Fraser Ltd
Date: 1981
Title: Chairman's speeches at general meetings of shareholders
Date: 1981-1984
FRAS 717/4-7
Title: Progress reports to employees
Date: 1981-1984
FRAS 3/34-39
Title: Annual report and statement of accounts
Date: 1981-1986
The annual reports include Smith's report as chairman for the year.
FRAS 707
Title: Chairman's statement and interim statement of accounts for 26 weeks to 30 July 1983
Date: September 1983

Related people and companies:

Company name: House of Fraser Ltd
Dates of connection: 1980-1986
Connection type: Smith was appointed deputy chairman of House of Fraser Ltd in 1980, and chairman in 1981.
Company name: House of Fraser Ltd | Board of Directors
Dates of connection: 1980-1986
Connection type: Smith joined the board of directors of House of Fraser Ltd in 1980.
Name: Fraser, Sir Hugh, 1936-1987, 2nd Baronet
Dates of connection: 1980-1981
Connection type: Smith was deputy chairman of House of Fraser Ltd under the chairmanship of Sir Hugh Fraser.

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