Nigel Simpson was gathering his thoughts as the taxi came to a halt.
He had dealt with Karl Jäger, the chief buyer from Elecktrosure GMBH, for several years and on his last trip to London, they had got much closer. Karl and he had enjoyed an excellent dinner together, during the course of which, they discovered they shared many tastes. The following day, Karl had expressed his appreciation, for the arrangements Nigel had made, for the remainder of the previous evening. So much so, he had promised to reciprocate, when Nigel came to visit their production facilities in Germany. He had said that, now he realised what a connoisseur Nigel was, he would take care to make special arrangements.
All had gone well for some months with Nigel steering a steady increase in Blackcote’s purchasing from Elecktrosure. Nigel and Karl would exchange warm and cheery greetings in their emails and phone calls. Karl would often sign off expressing his confidence in a long and happy future relationship between their companies.
Then came an event that filled Nigel with dread. Bob, the Chief Exec called him in to his office. It seemed that the board had agreed that, due to falling demand in a number of their markets, a series of budget reductions was to be implemented throughout the company. When Nigel looked at the details in the memo he had been handed, a shiver went through him. The implications of the cuts being demanded were horrendous.
“Cheer up, don’t worry,” soothed Bob, “Not sure if you’ve had a chance to touch base with Simon yet? Some of the Chinese components he’s been looking at are super quality, far cheaper than the stuff we’re getting from Europe.”
“Er, no, not yet. Been a bit hectic here. He’s probably struggled to get hold of me.”
“Anyway, expect you’ll be getting the full details over the next day or so. OK? Good, super stuff, crack on, eh?”
Nigel had heard that bloody Simon, the Group Technical Director, had been away on a trip touring the Far East. Now, it seemed, he was cutting the ground from beneath Nigel’s feet. He had spent years building up their European supplier base and everything worked like clockwork. Christ! The very thought of supply lines stretching all the way from China filled him with horror. Anyway, he was well looked after by their existing suppliers; they knew the value of a close, reciprocal relationship and the advantages it brought to everyone involved.
The next day his secretary popped her head around his door to say that Karl had been trying to contact him; could he ring him back urgently? “Oh, sh*t” thought Nigel, “He’s heard something already!”. Five minutes later, a message from Karl pinged up on his phone; “Call me!” was all it said.
The subsequent call was short, icily polite and very much to the point.
“Anyway,” Karl concluded, “We’re looking forward to your visit next week. Everything is arranged, time to relax a little, a bit of business and hey, what’s not to like?”
As he walked the final steps to the hotel’s imposing doors, Nigel’s mind was in turmoil. What Karl had in mind was, frankly, impossible. Chinese pricing was way below the existing price structure and here was Karl wanting a price increase! “Sod it!” he thought, “Karl’s a big boy, he knows the way business works. He’ll just have to suck it up…or open a factory in China!” Sniggering at his private wisecrack, he was amazed when he walked into the hotel lobby – it was huge, with a marble floor, opulent drapes and a pianist tinkering away on a concert grand.
“Karl’s laying it on a bit thick.” he thought as he walked up to the reception desk, which was just an elegant desk, an Apple Mac and a young lady, who was every inch a match for her surroundings.
“Good evening, Mr. Simpson, my name is Sabine, welcome to The Ritz-Carlton. The porter will take your bags and, if you’ll follow me, I’ll take you to your suite?’
‘Suite?’ thought Nigel as the express lift hummed quickly to the 20th floor. Ushered into the rooms, Nigel came to a halt, trying to take in the scale and grandeur of his surroundings.
“Mr. Jäger apologises but he cannot be with you this evening.” Sabine informed him, “but he has arranged for Ivanka to take care of everything for you. She will be with you shortly. Mr. Jäger said he remembers well your preferences and has also taken the liberty of ordering dinner for you both; this will be here shortly. Meanwhile, please enjoy your stay and let me know if there is anything else you require.” She backed gracefully out of the room.
Well, thought Nigel, perhaps Karl has had a change of heart?
Then, the most beautiful blonde he had ever seen, sashayed out of the bedroom, for all the world as if she was walking down a catwalk.
Much champagne was drunk, a little dinner was eaten and they quickly retired to the bedroom. What followed, Nigel thought, he would remember until his dying day.
Next morning, he was woken by the sun streaming in through the windows. Ivanka was nowhere to be seen. The phone rang;
“Guten Morgen,” Sabine gushed chirpily, “Herr Jäger called to say that he hoped you enjoyed your evening and asks me to remind you that he is expecting your new contract for your meeting this morning. Something about sharpening the pencil, ja?”
Nigel slumped back on the bed.
That was when he saw, many meters above, the small camera concealed in the ceiling.