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Why the Pineapple?

By John Campbell

February 2015


Pineapple, pine-apple

 /`pʌInap(ә)l/ sb

1. The juicy edible fruit of the Ananas, Ananassa Sativa, a large collective fruit developed from a conical spike of flowers, and surmounted by a crown of small leaves: so called from its resemblance to a pine-cone.

1666 John Evelyn, diarist “The Ananas or Pineapple is accounted the most delicious fruit... of all America”.

2. A symbol of hospitality; the act or practice of being hospitable; the reception and entertainment of guests, visitors or strangers with liberality and goodwill. Placed by sea captains on railings or door fan-lights in 17C. and 18C. to celebrate the safe return to harbour of vessels trading to the Americas and Indies.

1988 Campbell Lutyens “Let us build our firm under the principles of the pineapple”.

Many people ask us why Campbell Lutyens operates under the sign of the pineapple.

Until Christopher Columbus’s voyage to the Americas in 1493 and his brief visit to Guadeloupe the pineapple was unknown outside that region. As Fran Beauman wrote in 2005 in her authoritative book on “The Pineapple – King of Fruits”, it originates from the area now known as Brazil and Paraguay.

The first pineapple arrived in England in 1657 during the Cromwellian commonwealth. On the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660 it rapidly took its place as the King of Fruits, the centrepiece of Royal banquets, the symbol of hospitality and friendship. Dunmore Pineapple

Immediately prior to the American Revolution of 1776 the Earl of Dunmore, Governor of Virginia, became familiar with the pineapple which often decorated the ironwork and woodwork of Colonial Williamsburg. On his return he built a pinery in his native Scotland surmounted by a 14 metre stone pineapple and now in the ownership of the Landmark Trust.

Prior to the formation of Campbell Lutyens, Andrew Sealey and I – both with Scottish roots – had been involved in agri business investment and finance. Companies with which one or both of us were associated grew a diverse range of crops throughout the world including tea, coffee, oil palm, rubber, coconuts, citrus fruits, dates and table and wine grapes. But never pineapples!

So why choose the pineapple as our emblem when Campbell Lutyens was founded in 1988?

First, we were a new company and this was a new fruit to both of us. Secondly, it is a beautiful, elegant, handsome fruit. The spirals embody the gradations of the Golden Mean, Fibonacci’s mathematical perfection, and we seek in our work to be precise and elegant. Thirdly, the pineapple links Europe with the (then) emerging market of the United States and the remainder of the Americas and we have always honoured the importance of the emerging markets as the growth engine of the world. Fourthly, King Ferdinand of Portugal financed Columbus’s voyage of discovery to the Americas – an excellent example of private equity best practice. But finally, and most important, it is the symbol of hospitality, friendship and generosity and we always felt that those were good principles to adopt in our relationships with our clients and counterparties, embodied in the modest fees we charge for our penetrating advice!

So the pineapple and Campbell Lutyens became married at our foundation in 1988 and we have lived happily together ever since.

And, for those committed readers who have penetrated this far, you may perhaps enjoy this poem which I wrote in 2014 for a Condé Nast publication!


By John Campbell

I am the Pineapple, the King of Fruits,
The Khan of Kamasutra, Grand Pasha of the Night,
Mikado, Shah and Emperor, the Ruler Absolute
Of all Dominions, near and far, in which my plant takes root.

Ananas Comosus is, botanically, my name,
Amazonia is my birthplace, the cradle of my fame,
The tribe Tupi Guaranis, four thousand years ago,
First nurtured and refined me as the finest fruit on show.

Columbus on his voyage under Ferdinand's burgee
In Guadaloupean rapture – in Fourteen Ninety Three –
First savoured the sweet flavours which beguile my devotees
And brought me back to Europe, to the King's enormous glee.

The Pineapple became THE fruit, preferred above all other,
On raptured nights of great delight when Isabella's Mother
Was far from Court and secret thoughts – too delicate to embellish –
Aroused the King and incensed Queen in aphrodisial relish.

The fruit of Fibonacci blends proportions pure, divine,
With taste at once ambrosial, scented and sublime,
A marriage beyond measure, the guarantee of pleasure,
No lover could discover a sweeter Valentine.

For the Pineapple is sensuous, Byzantine by design,
Awesome and exotic and erotic all combined,
Theatrical, magnificent, with yellow flesh aflame,
Yes! I'm proud to be a Pineapple, the King of Fruits declaims.