Sir Gerrard Jude “Gerry” Robinson (born 1948) is an Irish-born British businessman, the ninth of ten children. He is the former non-executive Chairman of Allied Domecq and the ex-Chairman/Chief Executive of Granada.
After leaving Ireland in his early teens, he briefly trained to become a Catholic priest at St Mary’s College in Castlehead. He began a career in accounting in 1965 working as a clerk with Matchbox Toys. After achieving his Chief Management Accountant qualification, he was promoted to become a chief accountant at a Lesney factory in east London.
In 1974, he left Matchbox to work for Lex Vehicle Leasing as a management accountant. He then rose through the company before being appointed finance director. In 1980, he joined the UK franchise of Coca Cola, owned at that time by Grand Metropolitan. In 1983 he was appointed managing director of Grand Metropolitan’s international services division. In 1987 he led a £163m management buyout of the loss-making contract services and catering division which was later renamed Compass Group.
He then joined Granada as chief executive in 1991 and notably fired Granada’s highly respected chairman, David Plowright in 1992. (Comedian John Cleese labelled Robinson “an upstart caterer”).
He steered the company through various mergers, and hostile takeovers including London Weekend Television (1993), the Forte Hotels chain (1996) and an unsuccessful attempt at acquiring Rentokil Initial in 2005.
Robinson also served as chairman of the Arts Council England for six years from 1998; in which capacity he was on one occasion one of the many victims of a spoof by British comedian Ali G (Sacha Baron Cohen).
He has divorced and remarried, and has a total of 4 children. He lives in Holland Park, West London, and has a vacation home near the village of Raphoe in Donegal. He established a botanical garden with a narrow gauge railway – the Difflin Lake Railway – which is open to the public.
He was knighted in the 2004 New Year’s Honours List.
In January 2007 he presented a three-part series Can Gerry Robinson Fix the NHS? Following on from the BBC series I’ll Show Them Who’s Boss, this Open University-produced programme followed Robinson as he attempted to reduce waiting lists at Rotherham General Hospital.