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Ken Cairnduff Scotland
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Ken Cairnduff Born 1947 Glasgow

After giving up studying to become an accountant, Ken Cairnduff’s first entrepreneurial venture was selling love beads in a Cork hippie market. By 1979 he had opened two concessions in Glasgow gift stores, and in 1980 opened his first standalone shop, Razzle Dazzle selling fashion jewellery and accessories which was an instant success. Razzle Dazzle grew and metamorphosised into Internacionale over a period of years. Inter was a young fashion clothing retailer, still with a strong emphasis on jewellery and accessories. In the late 80’s Ken added Au Naturale as “concessions” selling gimmick gifts in the bigger Inter The Au Naturale brand grew rapidly over the following 10 years to become one of Scotland's largest privately owned retail chains and developed into a retail park based home interiors chain with a twist. It outgrew its Inter parent fascia and was very successful.
The business of 140 shops was sold in September 2006 to a management by-out backed by Barclays and VC and since selling Ken has continued his interest in property development in a much bigger way. In 2005, Cairnduff Developments Ltd restored the Old Athenaeum creating a 15,000sq ft spacious retail site and currently owns a retail park in Newcastle, Rutherglen Shopping Centre and the Kyle Centre Ayr. Ken has a directorships in Kelvinside Academy War Memorial Trust and actively supports new enterprise and was an inspiration at GWRA’s Personal Enterprise Show where he was the guest speaker.
Now semi-retired, Ken supports independence as he is keen to give something back for the benefit of his family and future generations.  He passionately believes that as a self governing nation Scotland can prosper, as decisions on vital areas such as education (in the widest sense of the word), cultural, sporting, business, economic and social issues can be decided by Scots for the benefit of Scots.

13th December 2003.A naturally late developer He dropped out, but tuned back in and grew from street trader to retail empire maker, finds Mark Williamson. Ken Cairnduff, the former hippy turned seriously successful retail businessman, says he would not worry if his three young children decided to follow the road to love and peace rather than riches.

''No-one's a hippy for ever, it's only a phase,'' he smiles in the headquarters of his fast-expanding Internacionale-to-Au Naturale empire, in Glasgow's Royston, a spit from his birthplace.These days the hard drugs that circulate in alternative circles could make hippydom a scarier place than when he hung out with commune-dwellers in his 20s, after dropping out of accountancy training. However, youthful idealism and worldly success later in life make perfectly happy bedfellows, he insists.''Most of those I knew who were genuine had lots of thought about them. They weren't hippies just because they couldn't be bothered doing anything and lots were small-time entrepreneurs in their own way. They had to make a living but did not want to work for anyone.''

In his own case that meant shivering in the gloaming in street-markets on which he eked out a living as a trader specialising in keenly-priced fashions and fancy goods and gained a grounding in the unglamorous realities of one kind of small business.''You're there when it's pitch and freezing. It's hard to imagine how hard it is.''Twenty-odd years later he is still trading in the same fields but out of 100-plus stores turning over (pounds) 85m.

Although that makes him a heavyweight businessman, Cairnduff says he still retains the values stereotypically seen as the preserve of those with less onerous responsibilities.''We're a very 'PC' [politically correct] company but I'd like to think in a sensible way. We are very much an equal rights employer. There are lots of women working here and I'm strongly anti-sectarian and all that crap,'' he insists. He will be avoiding the office with a new man's determination to protect family time over Christmas when he is looking forward to spending lots of time with his wife, Margaret, and their children. Ideals aside, that determination also reflects an obvious pleasure in parenthood that owes much to becoming a dad later in life than most. He had turned 50 when his daughter, Madeline, was born. ''When you're young you think you've got forever with kids but when you're older you know you don't so you make the most of that time.'' Time spent messing about with his rugby-playing boys, Rory and Fraser, as well as the odd party in and around his home in Glasgow's West End means the festive season will be far from restful.

With the last lap in sight before the break, besides perennial gripes about red tape which he worries must put many off from starting firms the only things apparently troubling his karma are the possible implications of an unseasonably warm November. A proliferation of money-off labels on the high street recently showed many were paying the price of piling 'em high only to find it was not cold enough to get people Christmas shopping in earnest. ''If they weren't over-stocked they wouldn't be putting the offers on,'' says Cairnduff with the finality of an expert who knows all too well how important the Yuletide trading season is.

15 Jan 2018
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