Sir Michael Owen Edwardes (1930–2019) was a South African-British business executive who is credited with restoring the fortunes of British Leyland.
Born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Edwardes was educated at St Andrew’s College and Rhodes University, Grahamstown. He joined the Chloride Battery Company in South Africa in 1951, moving in 1966 to Great Britain to work as an executive in Chloride’s smallest subsidiary, Alkaline Batteries. In 1974, he was appointed chairman of the Chloride Group.
In 1977, Edwardes was asked to rescue the failing British Leyland motor company from commercial failure. In five years, Edwardes cut the workforce in half, took on the unions, reduced costs, decentralized management, closed 19 out of 55 plants, and turned the company around.
Edwardes was regarded as a critical player in the Thatcherite revolution—he was an executive who challenged leftwing trade unionists and reshaped a national institution. He described his British Leyland-transformation in his book Back from the Brink (1983.)