London - James Campbell Fraser, former head of the Dunlop organisation until 1983, died in London last April, aged 83.
Sir Campbell Fraser led Dunlop through one of the most difficult times in its long history. He took over as joint managing director in 1971, and as sole MD from 1972, executive chairman in 1978. Fraser was in charge when the remains of the Dunlop Tyres business was sold to Sumitomo Rubber Industries in 1983, though he opposed the sale.
His tenure coincided with one of the worst periods of labour relations in the UK, and Fraser struggled manfully to bring Dunlop under control. One of his first acts as sole managing director was to disentangle the Dunlop operations from Pirelli's tyre activities. The two companies had minor shareholdings in each other and had tried to work together - a move Fraser had supported from its initiation in 1971. Unfortunately the attempt was a dismal failure and Fraser then had to break the ties at a significant loss.
However, Fraser's problems did not end there. He had to re-build the company and change the relations between management and workers. During his time, Dunlop lost 23 000 jobs, but still the company was making record losses.
In September 1983 after almost a year of secret negotiations with Sumitomo Rubber Industries, he announced the sale of Dunlop's European tyre operations to Sumitomo, with the loss of a further 1000 jobs. He took the blame for the decision and was dismissed by the shareholders.
Although Fraser failed to rescue Dunlop, he enjoyed success and a good reputation outside the tyre industry, where he was president of the UK employers' federation, the CBI from 1982 to 84, as British industry struggled to come to terms with prime minister Thatcher's sweeping changes. The CBI's relations with both the government and the unions improved in this period, thanks to Frasers diplomatic skills. He also enjoyed much success as non-executive director of many other businesses ranging from Scottish television to the oil company, BP.
James Campbell Fraser Kt, FRSE, president CBI was born in Dunblane, Scotland on 2 May, 1923 and died in London on 27 April, 2007. He leaves two dughters.