Sunday, 21 November 2010

Boycott AVEVA, Cohort PLC and The Shephard Group

Nick Prest signed the offending letter of 18th October as Chairman of AVEVA. He is also Chairman of Cohort plc and Chairman of The Shephard Group, so these companies are profiled as well.

Please note AVEVA is not a typo for Aviva, the insurance company previous known as Norwich Union; the two are not connected.

There is a disturbing theme to Nick Prest's companies.

AVEVA provides engineering IT software to the plant, power and marine industries. It is now listed on the FTSE250 but AVEVA's origins lie in the public sector with public money building it up to be a the centre of excellence it became.

The Computer-Aided Design Centre (or CADCentre as it was more commonly referred to, and later formally became) was created in Cambridge UK in 1967 by the UK Ministry of Technology. Its mission was to develop computer-aided design techniques and promote their take-up by British industry. Its first director was Arthur Llewelyn who initially contracted out the recruitment and management of specialist staff to ICL.

The centre carried out much pioneering CAD research, and many of its early staff members went on to become prominent in the worldwide CAD community, such as brothers Dick Newell and Martin Newell. Dick Newell oversaw the creation of the extremely successful Plant Design Management System (PDMS) for 3D process plant design, and later co-founded two very successful software companies - Cambridge Interactive Systems (CIS) which was well known from its Medusa 2D/3D CAD system, and Smallworld with its eponymous Smallworld GIS (Geographical Information System). Martin Newell later went to the University of Utah where he did pioneering 3D solid modelling work; he was also one of the progenitors of PostScript.

Along with the Cambridge Science Park, CADCentre was arguably the most important single factor in what became known as the Cambridge Phenomenon - the transformation of Cambridge from a distinguished and beautiful but rather sleepy small University town into one of the world's high technology centres within a few short years in the 1980s. Many people who had worked at CADCentre went on to found their own successful software companies.

CADCentre was privatised in 1983, was the subject of a management buyout in 1994 and became a publicly quoted company in 1996. It changed its name to AVEVA in 2001.

In January 2006 Nick Prest joined the board of AVEVA plc becoming Chairman in April 2006.

Cohort plc, describes itself as a 'defence technical services business'.

Cohort plc is the parent company for three innovative, agile and responsive businesses operating in defence and related markets. It aims to add real value through the experience and contacts of its senior team while providing a light-touch but effective governance framework. Its objective is to deliver consistent and growing value to shareholders through its three operating subsidiaries: MASS, SCS and SEA.

MASS is an independent UK systems house with a defence and aerospace market focus. Formed in 1983, the company is based near St Neots in Cambridgeshire with a second facility in Lincoln. MASS joined Cohort in August 2006.

SCS provides independent technical advice and services primarily but not exclusively to the defence and security sectors. Formed in 1982, the company is based in Theale, Berkshire. SCS became the first member of the group in February 2006.

SEA (Group) Limited (SEA) is an independent systems engineering and software company operating in defence, aerospace, transport and offshore markets. Formed in 1988, the company is based in Beckington, near Frome, with offices in North Bristol (near MOD). SEA joined Cohort in October 2007.

The Shephard Group has been providing high-quality business intelligence to the aerospace and defence market, through a combination of magazines, online news services, handbooks and global events. Particularly well known within the helicopter, unmanned vehicles, defence electronics, military airpower and civil aviation markets.

The Shephard Group is a global company. In 2008, they operated in Oman, Australia (where they delivered the largest helicopter exhibition in the region), Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates and Belgium. Of course, the UK is very important to them, and their appointment as the organisers of the official conference for Defence Equipment & Support is a reflection of their imbeddedness with the Ministry of Defence.

Nick PrestNick Prest, Chairman of AVEVA plc, Cohort plc and Shepherd Group Ltd

After graduating with an MA from Oxford, Nick Prest began his career as an administrative civil servant in the MOD in 1974. After an MBA course at Bradford Business School, Nick then moved within the MOD to the Defence Export Services Organisation. In 1982, he left the MOD to take a marketing role at United Scientific Holdings, predecessor of Alvis plc (Alvis). He was appointed marketing director in 1985, with overall responsibility for the order intake of the Alvis Group worldwide, and became chief executive in 1989. Alvis developed into one of the world's leading contractors in the specialist field of armoured vehicles before being acquired by BAE Systems in 2004. Nick was appointed chairman of Alvis in 1996.

In the 1990s Nick also held a prominent role in arms industry affairs in the UK, acting as Chairman of the Defence Manufacturers Association and Vice-Chairman of the Defence Industries Council. He left Alvis following its acquisition by BAE Systems in 2004. In January 2006 he joined the board of AVEVA plc becoming Chairman in April 2006. In March 2006 he was appointed Chairman of Cohort plc. In December 2007 he became Chairman of Shephard Group, a privately owned arms and aerospace media group. He is a member of the Council of ADS, the UK trade association serving the arms, aerospace, space and security industries. He was chairman of the Defence Manufacturers Association from 2001 to 2004. Nick is chairman of AVEVA plc, Cohort plc and Shepherd Group Ltd.

He was awarded a CBE in 2001 for services to the arms industry, also known as 'killing people abroad'.

The number of people who have died as a result of the activites of Nick Prest is unknown but what is known is that on 18th October, Nick Prest, former MOD civil servant and chairman of a company created with public funds and privatised to suit the dogma of the government in 1983, signed an open letter calling on the Chancellor to continue the coalition government's plans to reduce the public finance deficit in one term, plans which included swingeing cuts on the poorest members of society and which risk pushing this country into a double-dip recession, the likes of which has not been seen since the last time the tories took power and tanked the economy in the early 80's.

This would be fair enough if this were to involve reduced public expenditure on companies like Nick's and the rest of the arms industry, but somehow I don't think that's on either his or the government's agenda.

For this reason Nick Prest is considered a fully signed up member of the Big Business Society and we urge people to boycott AVEVA plc, Cohort plc and Shepherd Group Ltd. In fact we should work with CATT to shut down Cohort plc and Shepherd Group Ltd as they deal in death.


  1. I don't see how a boycott on Aveva would be constructive based on a chairman. Aveva is a prominent company in the fields of plant and marine design with a great deal of genuine hard working people. Maybe you should protest at Mr Prests gate or hurl tomatoes at him instead?

    Fair enough boycott Cohort and Shephard Grp if they deal in death, but not Aveva.

  2. Hello PML,

    Unfortunately it was as Chairman of AVEVA that Nick Prest signed the offending letter, so AVEVA is included in the boycott.

    Throwing tomatoes isn't really my style. This is about harnessing consumer power, but thanks for your input.

  3. That's fair enough, although throwing tomatoes can be fun.


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