ultimo adj : in or of the month preceding the present one; "your letter received on the 29th ult" [syn: ult]
- last one
For other uses, see Ultimo (disambiguation).
HistoryMichelle Mone grew up in the East End of Glasgow, and after an early career as a model ran Labatt's Scottish sales and marketing team. After being made redundant and having her second child, in October 1996 whilst attending a dinner dance with her husband Michael, she decided while wearing a very uncomfortable cleavage enhancing brassiere that she could design something better which was:
- more comfortable
- better looking
- create more cleavage
MJM International Ltd was set up in November 1996, and three years of research, design and development resulted in the patented Ultimo bra which achieved the aims Mone had set out.
In August 1999 a month after having her third child, Mone launched Ultimo at Selfridges department store in London - Selfridges sold the pre-launch estimate of six weeks of stock within 24 hours. In April 2000 Mone won the World Young Business Achiever Award in the Epcot Centre, Florida. In May 2000 Ultimo was launched in to the United States at the Saks Fifth Avenue store in New York.
Her achievements have been further recognised by the following:
1. In 2001, Prince Charles asked Michelle to join the Board of Directors for The Princes Scottish Youth Business Trust.
2. In November 2002, Michelle was awarded an Honorary Degree, Doctor of the University, by Paisley University.
3. In May 2003 Management Today voted Michelle one of the top 30 woman entrepreneurs in the UK. Michelle was listed alongside the likes of Martha Lane Fox and Stella McCartney.
After re-entering Debenhams in 95 stores the following year, together with John Lewis and Allders stores, the brand successfully moved into profit on the back of celebrity endorsement, when Julia Roberts wore one to the Hollywood launch of the film Erin Brockovich, and revived with a 500% growth in sales. Society "It Girl" Lady Victoria Hervey and Prince Charles’s wife Camilla Parker Bowles are among other well-known wearers. MJM International now own 6 very successful brands:- Ultimo, Michelle for George for Asda Stores, Per Amore for Dunnes and most recently Adore Moi for Debenhams.]
MarketingRod Stewart's girlfriend Penny Lancaster was the first Ultimo girl, replaced a year later by his ex-wife the supermodel Rachel Hunter while the couple were separated/divorcing. Stewart was upset with Mone, as she had approached her fellow Scot to help her business and persuade Lancaster to model the Ultimo range. Stewart called Mone a "manipulative cow" and commented that: "I hope she (Mone) chokes on her profits." Mone responded that she had always wanted Hunter to model the clothes as her original target, and only went for Lancaster at £200,000 because she was cheaper than the £1million it later cost her to sign Hunter.
Hunter was replaced by Helena Christensen, who is supplemented in the key United Kingdom market by Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding. In April 2007, Stewart was insulted again when Mone signed his daughter Kimberly to head the Ultimo campaign into the United States. In October 2007, Ultimo newly announced the sale of D-G range. The model is Hollyoaks actress Gemma Atkinson. Other Ultimo models have included Michelle Heaton, Katie Price, Jennifer Ellison, Samantha Mumba and Ruby Stewart.
The Autumn/Winter 08 Collection of the D-G Range will be modeled by Spice Girl Melanie Brown.
ControversyThe company was launched in the traditional ship building district of Glasgow, Govan, bringing much needed jobs. But after returning from a trip to Los Angeles in 2003 to visit her then friend Rod Stewart, the premises were moved after Mone was car-jacked, assaulted and prototype samples were stolen from her BMW car in 2003. Her mobile phone was taken, which included various telephone numbers of notable Scots including then First Minister Jack McConnell.
In 2005, production supervisor Claire Wood and trade union UNISON took Mone, her husband and MJM to an industrial tribunal for sexual discrimination and unfair dismissal, undertaken by Mone's husband. Mone commented on BBC Radio Scotland's All Change programme:
I'm from the east end of Glasgow and I am for the people. But there's too much about the people. There's 90 per cent for the employee and 10 per cent for the employer.
A spokesman for UNISON said: "Ms Mone appears to be a little out of touch with the current state of employment protection in the UK, maybe because she outsourced production of her bras to China."