Sir Reay Geddes, industrialist; born May 7, 1912, died February 19, 1998

Sir Reay Geddes, who was chairman of Dunlop from 1968-78 and whose 1966 report was instrumental in the creation of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders, has died at the age of 85.

From a Scottish background, he was educated at Rugby School and Cambridge, and joined the Bank of England as a trainee in 1932, three years before he joined Dunlop, where he spent the rest of his working life.

He followed in the footsteps of his father, the formidable Sir Eric Geddes, who, as well as serving as an MP, First Lord of the Admiralty, and Minister for Transport during a colourful career, became chairman of Dunlop in 1922, 46 years before his son.

Before the Second World War broke out, Reay Geddes joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, and he served throughout the war, mostly in the air force, but later in the Air Ministry. He was awarded the OBE for his war service.

He returned to Dunlop in 1945, joined the board in 1947, became the domestic sales director in 1953, and managing director in 1957. While he enjoyed many years of success at Dunlop, he also was the architect of the

ill-fated link-up with the Italian tyre-maker Pirelli, which proved disastrous to Dunlop's fortunes.

While Geddes pushed hard for the merger, which he thought could broaden Dunlop's product spread, and while the two companies announced ambitious plans for capital spending, Pirelli brought to the union heavy losses - #21.5m in 1972, the year after the merger took place - and the drain on resources proved a long-term handicap.

In the mid-sixties, while still managing director of Dunlop, he chaired the Shipbuilding Inquiry Committee, which recommended the merger of Britain's 27 major shipbuilding yards into four or five specialised groups.

The whole tenor of the report was of the need to revitalise the industry, and swift action was called for. Geddes and his team envisaged two main groups on the Clyde, two in the North-east of England, and one in Belfast, with the idea that each should be comparable in size to Japanese and Swedish counterparts in order to survive in a highly competitive market. His ideas were enthusiastically received, but failed to save the British shipbuilding industry from near-terminal decline.

Geddes also was outspoken on industrial relations, and was an early advocate of European expansion. He argued that while workers should be given more information on how companies operated, they should not take part in making business decisions. Workers, he argued, should ''learn why a strike-free year cut costs, and why efficiency kept prices down and their product in demand'', but there was no place for them in the boardroom.

When the idea was floated in the late 1960s by Harold Wilson and Barbara Castle, among others, Geddes was strident. If

worker participation meant sharing responsibility over business decisions it would ''not be good for business, for those in it, nor would it be in the best interests of a strong trade union movement''.

On Europe, he argued early in 1972 that a strong and enlarged European community had be-come a necessity. It could not afford a ''gentle period of gradually growing together'', but had to become an effective group of nations generating new resources, raising technological levels, and competing harder.

In addition to his work with Dunlop, Reay Geddes was at various times in his life president of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (1958-59), a

part-time member of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (1960-65), and a founder member of the National Econ-omic Development Council. He was chairman of the Charities Aid Foundation from 1985-90 and its president from 1991-93. He was knighted in 1968.

His wife, whom he married in 1938, died last year, and he

is survived by two sons and

three daughters.