The Power List 2017

The Retail Week Power List 2017 reveals the 100 most influential people in retail

The past year has served up its fair share of challenges for retailers.

Since the Brexit vote, sourcing costs have rocketed, consumer confidence has wobbled and retailers have had to fight harder than ever to tempt shoppers to spend.

Must-have product, sleek stores and a slick website are now par for the course. Retailers need to go above and beyond to stand out.

However, as the Retail Week Power List illustrates, the sector is jam-packed full of trailblazers doing just that. These innovators are giving customers products, services and experiences they did not even realise they wanted.

Retail is leading the field in personalisation, serving up suggestions for consumers based on past behaviour and making shopping – online or offline – quicker and easier than ever.

And through daring design, theatrical flair and everything from in-store spas to sushi bars, retailers have offered compelling reasons to put down the iPad and visit the shop.

"These innovators are giving customers products, services and experiences they did not even realise they wanted"

Masters of reinvention

The leaders topping this year’s Retail Week Power List are masters of reinvention and constantly looking for new revenue streams to exploit.

Amazon is not just a retailer – it’s now a cloud provider, a smart tech developer, a broadcaster, a drone pioneer and much, much more.

Sainsbury’s is no longer just a grocer. Following its acquisition of Argos and Habitat, it now sells everything from sofas to sports equipment.

Dixons Carphone does not just sell electrical goods, it also fixes them – and believes it can make £1bn doing so.

And Tesco is making a play for the food service market with its prospective takeover of Booker.

Standing still is not an option in retail. Those that do will be swiftly overtaken.

The retail bosses on this year’s Power List have kept their foot on the gas to ensure they continue to not just survive, but thrive in these uncertain times.

Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #RWPowerList

Highest risers in the Retail Week Power List 2017

Name Job title and company Rise This year Last year
Steve Murrells Group chief executive, The Co-operative Group 45 20 65
Carol Kane and Mahmud Kamani Joint chief executives, Boohoo 41 48 89
Sergio Bucher Chief executive, Debenhams 31 68 99
Ajay Kavan Vice-president, Amazon Fresh 28 70 98
Véronique Laury Group chief executive, Kingfisher 26 13 39
Philip Day Owner, Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group 24 38 62
Andy Bond Chief executive, Pepkor Europe 20 29 49
Gillian Drakeford UK country manager, Ikea 20 27 47
Nick Beighton Chief executive, Asos 14 14 28
John Rogers Chief executive, Sainsbury’s Argos 13 16 29

Biggest fallers in the Retail Week Power List 2017

Name Job title and company Fall This year Last year
Richard Pennycook Chairman, Fenwick and The Hut Group 43 51 8
Angela Ahrendts Senior vice-president, Apple Retail 20 52 32
Christo Wiese Investor 20 37 17
The weather 17 61 44
Andrew Moore Chief merchandising officer, Asda 12 82 70
John Browett Chief executive, Dunelm 11 85 74
Ian Grabiner Chief executive, Arcadia 11 67 56
Anders Kristiansen Chief executive, New Look 9 43 34
John Roberts Founder and executive director, 9 36 27
David Tyler Chairman, Sainsbury’s 9 66 57

Retail Week ones to watch

Name Job title and company
Archie Norman Incoming chairman, Marks & Spencer
Ulric Jerome Chief executive,
Jill Easterbrook Chief executive, Boden
Christos Angelides Chief executive, Reiss
Jon Rudoe Retail and technology director, Shop Direct
Will Kernan Chief executive, WiggleCRC
Alex Williamson Incoming chief executive, House of Fraser
Melanie Smith Strategy director, Marks & Spencer
Nigel Oddy Chief executive, The Range
Beth Butterwick Chief executive, Karen Millen


1. Jeff Bezos

  • Chief executive, Amazon
  • Last year: 1

The commander at the helm of Amazon’s rapidly expanding empire is once again crowned king of the Power List.

Bezos has masterminded a swathe of strategic initiatives that have sent shudders through retail boardrooms.

The etailer widened its array of store types in the US with the launch of Amazon Go, a convenience store free of physical transactions that looks like a scene from a sci-fi film.

It is early days for the format, but the online retailer is thought to be eyeing physical stores Stateside and in the UK for forays into the furniture and electricals market, so it looks like Bezos’ bricks-and-mortar ambitions are just warming up.

However, the online titan has not let physical retail slow the relentless pace of innovation he has set at Amazon.

"Bezos has masterminded a swathe of strategic moves that have sent shudders through retail boardrooms"

In the UK, the etailer has been pushing for dominance in the two biggest categories of retail – fashion and food. Amazon Fresh is rapidly expanding across London, while in apparel it has launched own-brand Find.

Amazon is as much a tech pioneer as it is a retailer. It launched Amazon Echo this year, a voice-activated assistant powered by artificial-intelligence technology that can be used for everything from checking the weather to ordering household essentials.

As Bezos said in Amazon’s annual statement last year, he always wants it to feel like day one at Amazon because day two is the equivalent of “stasis”, “irrelevance” and “excruciating, painful decline”.

Hyperbole aside, Bezos’s commitment to staying at and arguably defining the forefront of retail innovation is inspiring – and terrifying for his retail rivals.

2. Seb James

  • Chief executive, Dixons Carphone
  • Last year: 2

Seb James remains in second place on the Retail Week Power List, unable to topple the mighty Jeff Bezos.

However, James provides inspiration for retailers – they can take on Amazon and win. Electricals is one of Amazon’s strongest categories and, while other retailers are buckling under the online giant’s weight, James is growing an empire.

Building on the solid foundation of 2014’s super-merger between Dixons and Carphone Warehouse, James has continued to surpass expectations.

This year, the retailer has created 323 3-in-1 superstores, overhauled multichannel operations and taken the KnowHow services arm up another gear.

It is KnowHow that really sets Dixons Carphone apart from internet rivals.

Deliberately leveraging the business’s unique assets, James has kicked off a full roll-out of in-store ‘super clinics’ – KnowHow technical support booths with on-site engineers, and same-day iPhone and computer repairs.

"It is KnowHow that really stands Dixons Carphone apart from its internet rival"

He also appointed Telefónica’s Feilim Mackle to further bolster the KnowHow division, which James says is soon to be “totally rebadged and rebranded”.

And there are more strings to Dixon Carphone’s bow than service-oriented retail stores.

The company recently ramped up its business services proposition, specifically its digital platform HoneyBee – poised to streamline and professionalise person-to-person selling.

So confident is James in HoneyBee, now employed in store by businesses such as Apple, he’s even introduced it in his own stores to digitise computer selling.

Dixons Carphone hailed its best Black Friday ever last November and, before that, increased pre-tax profits by 19% in its half-year to October 29, 2016.

James, one of retail’s big-picture thinkers, always has an eye on the future and says the emergence of a new zeitgeist – specifically the burgeoning sharing economy – has captured his imagination.

Demonstrating there’s no end to his ambition, he recently vowed to “revolutionise retail as we know it”, by steaming towards this new “retail paradigm” and creating a pay-monthly membership model.

3. Dave Lewis

  • Chief executive, Tesco
  • Last year: 5

Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis moves into the top three of the Power List for the first time after steering the supermarket giant through another impressive year.

The group’s operating profit before exceptional items jumped 29.9% to £1.28bn in the year to February 25, while like-for-likes in the UK advanced 0.9% – a performance Lewis said was ahead of expectations.

Having laid the foundations for that growth by strengthening Tesco’s balance sheet through a series of disposals and regaining competitiveness in its core UK business, Lewis is now focusing on putting the grocer firmly back on the front foot.

Last October, he proudly unveiled a shift in strategy, lifting the lid on six new priorities Tesco would concentrate on in a bid to rebuild group margins to between 3.5% and 4%.

The grocer aims to build a differentiated brand through its proposition and private label, reduce operating costs by £1.5bn, generate £9bn in cash from operations and “maximise the mix” by making better decisions about what, when and where it sells.

"Lewis is now focusing on putting the grocer firmly back on the front foot"

Lewis also wants Tesco to purchase freeholds of more of its UK stores to minimise rental payments and drive innovation through more initiatives like Brand Guarantee, its Farms brands and the PayQwiq mobile wallet.

But in addition to all of that, Lewis is seeking to expand the business further by opening up a brand new revenue stream through the acquisition of food wholesaler Booker.

The shock announcement of the deal in January took the market by surprise, but Lewis’s rationale is clear. The proposed £3.7bn merger would allow Tesco to tap into the rapidly growing convenience and food-service markets, which Booker operates in.

The deal would see Tesco inherit the Londis, Budgens, Premier and Family Shopper symbol groups, as well as lucrative supply deals with restaurants such as Wagamama, Byron and Carluccio’s.

However, not all shareholders are convinced by the merits of the deal and Lewis faces a battle to win round disgruntled investors – and almost certainly the Competition and Markets Authority – if he is to pull off what he hopes will be the deal of the decade.     

4. Mike Coupe

  • Chief executive, Sainsbury’s
  • Last year: 3

Sainsbury’s boss Coupe hailed a “pivotal” 12 months for the grocer at its full-year results last month, but in reality 2016/17 brought mixed fortunes for the business.

Coupe – the longest-serving boss among the big four grocers – may have overseen a promising start to the Sainsbury’s–Argos marriage, but the group’s pre-tax profits slipped for a third consecutive year as its core business came under pressure.

As rivals Tesco and Morrisons have built momentum in their respective turnaround efforts, Sainsbury’s has found itself running faster to stand still. Sales in its largest supermarkets fell 1.8% in the year to February 28, as grocery sales slipped 0.5%.

However, its food performance in the growing convenience and online sectors, which grew 6.5% and 8.2% respectively, gave cause for optimism.

Yet it is Argos that has provided the brightest spark for Coupe over the past 12 months. Having spearheaded the ambitious £1.4bn acquisition, former commercial director Coupe presided over a 4% jump in like-for-like sales at Argos in the 24 weeks after he bought the business.

"Argos has provided the brightest spark for Coupe over the past 12 months"

The roll-out of 250 Argos Digital stores inside Sainsbury’s larger stores will now be completed six months ahead of plan as Coupe accelerates his vision for the ‘supermarket of the future’, which also includes mini Habitat shop-in-shops, eBay collection desks and sushi stations.

While the move to snap up Argos last September looks smart, some of Coupe’s other big calls have been questioned.

The decision to axe all multi-buy promotions, for instance, was seen by many observers as the reason Sainsbury’s food sales fell in the crucial golden quarter as shoppers were lured elsewhere by three-for-two offers on party food.

Likewise, the appeal of its Nectar loyalty scheme has waned since the decision to halve the number of points received per pound spent, while its divisive food-dancing marketing campaign attracted more jeers than cheers.  

As his biggest rival Tesco gets back on the front foot, Asda threatens to turn a corner and currency headwinds drive food price inflation, Coupe faces another challenging year.

5. Brexit


When the UK made the unexpected decision to leave the EU in June last year, a new all-powerful retail disruptor was born.

The implications of Brexit, even before Article 50 was triggered and divorce proceedings were under way, have reverberated throughout the industry, and the winners and losers have surfaced fast.

Its major outcomes to date are twofold.

Firstly, uncertainty has mired the fortunes of some big-ticket retailers.

The element of the unknown – sprung from the shock exit of former Prime Minister David Cameron, the country’s as yet unclear route out of the EU and Theresa May’s snap election – is believed to have put shoppers off making major purchases.

Retailers such as Topps Tiles claim that volatile consumer confidence, paired with a slowdown in the housing market, have hampered sales.

Conversely, a jubilant 52% of the population may have, in celebratory fashion, brought forward big-money purchases – accounting for recent ups and downs in footfall and confidence measures.

The second – and perhaps more tangible – outcome is the slumped value of the pound, which has pushed up sourcing costs for many retailers and threatened to stifle margins.

"With 18 months remaining to unravel the UK from the EU’s web, Brexit’s biggest implications are yet to materialise"

Some retailers were forced to hike prices almost immediately, while for others the difficulties arose when their individual hedging policies expired.

For those with a big global presence, however, the decline in value of the pound has brought benefits, and retailers such as Asos have celebrated burgeoning international sales.

Although commodity costs have spiked in the grocery sector, the supermarket price war has so far prevented grocers from fully passing the increases on to the consumer.

That said, shrunken sizes of certain confectionery and frozen products have not gone unnoticed and the relationships between some retailers and suppliers have come under strain.

With 18 months remaining to unravel the UK from the EU’s web, Brexit’s biggest implications are yet to materialise.

Rules yet to be written will govern retailers’ employment policies and who they can freely trade with because it is still unclear if the UK will remain in the single market, or continue to allow the free movement of people.

It’s likely then that this new entrant to the list will only wield more influence over the industry as the separation process unfolds and the UK is set adrift.

6. Matthew Barnes

  • UK chief executive, Aldi
  • Last year: 12

Aldi UK boss Matthew Barnes has jumped back into the top 10 of the Power List following a landmark year for the discounter.

The German retailer’s market share leapfrogged that of the Co-op at the end of January, according to Kantar, as it became Britain’s fifth-largest grocer for the first time.

While its great discount rival Lidl remains in a state of flux under new boss Christian Härtnagel, Aldi and Barnes have pressed on with their strategy to drive efficiencies and broaden the product proposition, while remaining the lowest-priced grocer in the UK.

Aldi has also pledged to invest £300m into revamping its store estate with newly designed fixtures for the beer, wine and spirits, fresh produce, baby and toddler and food-to-go categories.

Aldi remains on course to refurbish more than 100 stores during 2017 and has upped its target to 2,600 shops in the UK.

But it is perhaps Aldi’s work on improving the quality of its own-label ranges that has been most impressive over the past 12 months.

"Aldi and Barnes have pressed on with their strategy to drive efficiencies and broaden the product proposition"

Barnes drove the expansion of the discounter’s premium Specially Selected range ahead of the crucial Christmas period in a bid to prevent shoppers trading up to the big four, or even more upmarket rivals such as Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and Fortnum & Mason.

Aldi’s total sales increased 15% year on year in December 2016, while revenues from Specially Selected lines surged 27%.

It is not just in store where Barnes’ business has outshone Lidl over the past year, though. Aldi’s reputation for unique marketing and advertising came to the fore again last November with its Kevin the Carrot Christmas advert, which made waves on social media.

And the grocer gazumped Lidl on pay in February, when it increased the hourly rate for store staff to £8.53 nationally and £9.75 in London, easily outstripping both the Government’s compulsory national living wage and the Living Wage Foundation’s recommended rate.   

Setting the agenda on price and pay is one thing, but disrupting the established order in terms of convenience, the in-store experience and quality will increasingly become priorities for Barnes in the coming years.

7. Paul Marchant

  • Chief executive, Primark
  • Last year: 9

Creeping up two places, the elusive Marchant may not like to court publicity but he still holds much influence in UK retail.

Primark has transformed the high street under his stewardship, setting a new standard for value retail.

Its now iconic brown bags are a mainstay of almost every high street in Britain, with the retailer pumping out both the cheapest basics and must-have trend-led pieces.

At its last half-year results, the value fashion retailer delivered a 3.2% uplift in operating profit while sales during the period spiked 11%. UK like-for-likes were up 2%, no mean feat for a value retailer in a squeezed market.

The results suggested that the previous year, in which like-for-likes dipped because of unseasonable weather, was a one-off rather than the beginning of a downward spiral for the value giant.

"Primark has transformed the high street under Marchant’s stewardship, setting a new standard for value retail"

Marchant has steered the Primark ship since 2009 and has increasingly navigated its journey into international waters.

Overseas expansion has stepped up this year, most notably in the US where the retailer was poised to open its eighth store at the time of publication. It now has shops in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

Primark follows a long – and chequered – history of British retailers trying to break America but Marchant is driving the project at pace. While the retailer has so far failed to give specific figures on its US trading, its expansion suggests that its efforts are being rewarded.

At the same time, the retailer is trading very well in a number of challenging European markets, bringing its unique brand of fast fashion at ultra-low prices to new markets.

Primark is one of the only retailers to resist the pressure to trade online, demonstrating how powerful its consumer appeal remains in the age of the smartphone. 

8. Sir Charlie Mayfield

  • Chairman, John Lewis Partnership
  • Last year: 7

Sir Charlie Mayfield, whose Partnership responsibilities include Waitrose as well as the eponymous department store, has taken some tough decisions as he seeks to ensure continued success for the unique retail business.

‘Fewer but better jobs’ has been his mantra as he has overseen redundancies and cut Partners’ bonuses in order to improve productivity, and position the business not just to withstand any trading turbulence on a bumpy road but to move it up a gear.

As he unveiled the Partnership’s most recent annual results, Mayfield said: “Bonus is lower because the board has decided to retain more of our annual profits in order to strengthen our balance sheet.

“This allows us to maintain our level of investment in the face of what we expect to be an increasingly uncertain market this year, while absorbing the costs associated with adapting the Partnership for the future.”

"Along with ‘better jobs’, Mayfield is also concentrating on bolstering the Partnership’s financial position"

Strengthening the appeal of “our two well-loved brands” is one of Mayfield’s priorities. At Waitrose the focus will be investment in the existing business rather than more shops, while at John Lewis there has been investment in technology and supply chain to reflect omnichannel shopping.

Along with ‘better jobs’, Mayfield is also concentrating on bolstering the Partnership’s financial position “both to increase the resilience of our balance sheet to market shocks and to build our financial firepower to invest in new growth in the future”.

Mayfield presides over a Partnership where there have been big changes at the top over the past 18 months. Mark Price departed Waitrose to be succeeded by Rob Collins in the spring last year, while Paula Nickolds took the helm at the department store division after Andy Street left to run as mayor of the West Midlands.

But Mayfield, a former BRC chair, remains a JLP stalwart.

The former McKinsey staffer and guardsman, who is the fifth Partnership chairman and has held the post for a decade, is one of the leaders the entire industry looks to for honest assessment of the retail environment and the direction of travel.

9. Alex Baldock

  • Chief executive, Shop Direct
  • Last year: 13

It’s been a landmark year for the boss of Shop Direct. The pureplay retailer has gone from strength to strength and posted a 43.6% leap in full-year profits to £150m, marking its fourth consecutive year of rising earnings and sales.

Baldock has been instrumental in turning what was once a struggling catalogue business into what he calls “a titan of ecommerce” and was named the Clarity Retail Leader of the Year at this year’s Retail Week Awards as a result.

While he may be a relative newcomer to retail when compared with other mainstays on this list, Baldock has made a significant impression on the sector and his peers. Shop Direct is fast becoming the pacemaker in UK retail innovation, as its latest foray into AI-powered chatbots demonstrates.

Baldock has said he is “doubling down” on Shop Direct’s investment in the technology, which he insists “will transform retail quite fundamentally”.

"Baldock has been instrumental in turning what was once a struggling catalogue retailer into what he calls ‘a titan of ecommerce'"

Working with cutting-edge technologies such as personalisation to drive forward Shop Direct’s business in recent years has clearly whetted Baldock’s appetite, and he has also flagged virtual reality (VR) as a future game-changer for the industry.

Many more traditional retailers might dismiss AI and VR as flights of fancy, far removed from the day-to-day reality of running a retail operation. However, when Baldock talks about them, people take note.

Shop Direct has attracted several heavy hitters to join from other retailers and business more widely over the past year, including former Sainsbury’s digital and technology director Jon Rudoe.

Baldock’s ability to put his money where his mouth is and make innovation the watchword of Shop Direct’s success has helped him climb the ranks in this year’s Power List.

10. Lord Wolfson

  • Chief executive, Next
  • Last year: 6

Down four places, 2016 was not a good year for Lord Wolfson, who is accustomed to sitting pretty at the top of the retail tree.

The clichéd line on Wolfson is that when he talks the industry listens – but it is true.

He has been at the centre of debates on topics such as the living wage and business rates and, despite a tough year, his opinions still loom large when he shares them.

Inside Next, however, the picture looks less rosy – the past financial year marked the end of its tenure as a bullet-proof business.

Wolfson has previously looked outside the retailer to issues such as the increased tendency for consumers to spend on leisure rather than retail and, of course, to fashion’s favourite problem, the weather.

But following 2016’s poor performance, he admitted that Next has problems of its own to solve.

"Despite a tough year, Wolfson’s opinions still loom large when he shares them"

Some of this work relates to retail basics such as product and fulfilment, which a giant such as Next should not be tripping up on.

Next was once a market leader in fulfilment but has allowed rivals to catch up, blunting its competitive edge, and in product the retailer has chased trends at the expense of core lines.

On top of those Next-specific issues, Wolfson, along with the rest of the fashion middle market, will have to navigate an increasingly tricky market this year.

But, unequivocal as ever, he has set out his strategy for dealing with the problems he can solve, promising to innovate in fulfilment and reintroduce core, ‘heartland’ product.

While Wolfson may have dropped down the top 10, he is still a titan of the industry – but the first profit drop in eight years cannot go unremarked.


11. David Potts

  • Chief executive, Morrisons
  • Last year: 16

Dismissed by some observers as a trader without the strategic mind required to be a chief executive when he took the Morrisons job two years ago, David Potts has proved plenty of people wrong.

The former Tesco shelf-stacker has transformed the grocer from embattled business to star performer as far as the big four are concerned.

Potts has led the supermarket giant through six consecutive quarters of like-for-like sales growth after focusing on enhancing customer service, improving availability, revamping its own-label proposition and tying up with businesses such as Timpson to offer “useful and popular services” in its supermarkets.

Potts is looking to leverage the grocer’s vertically integrated model to open up fresh revenue streams beyond stores.

Morrisons already supplies Amazon Fresh with thousands of fresh, frozen and ambient goods and is resurrecting the Safeway brand to sell to independent retailers.  

12. Peter Cowgill

  • Executive chairman, JD Sports Fashion
  • Last year: 18

Peter Cowgill, the down-to-earth boss of JD Sports, has had a vintage year during which the business was named Retailer of the Year at the Retail Week Awards, posted another set of record results and continued expanding internationally.

Despite the tough trading conditions that have afflicted other fashion retailers, in April JD reported a third consecutive year of double-digit store like-for-like growth at its core sportswear business, helping lift profits by 81%.

The retailer’s outdoors division, Blacks and Millets, also moved into the black and JD bought Go Outdoors to further grow this business.

Cowgill acknowledged that JD has been helped by the athleisure vogue, but put success down to factors such as long-term investment, high retail standards and strong supplier relationships.

The only black spot during the year was allegations about poor working practices at the retailer’s Kingsway warehouse.

However, an investigation commissioned by Deloitte found that the claims “did not represent a balanced characterisation of working practices at Kingsway”.

The retailer looks well-positioned to continue to grow under Cowgill’s leadership.

13. Véronique Laury

  • Group chief executive, Kingfisher
  • Last year: 39

Véronique Laury rockets up the list as she pushes ahead with her overhaul of B&Q and Screwfix owner Kingfisher.

Her five-year plan to unify the sprawling businesses, streamline systems and achieve a sustainable profit uplift of £500m, came under criticism when it was initially unveiled.

However, she found initial success as the group reported a 14.7% jump in pre-tax profits in its full year to January 2017.

Now well into the second year of the One Kingfisher strategy, Laury has introduced “unified” ranges, and the roll-out of a new, much-needed digital platform is under way. But there may be a spanner in the works as “some business disruption” caused availability problems in its first quarter to April 30. Yet Laury insists the retailer is on track.

If she can deliver her plans on time and on budget, she may well find herself higher up this list in years to come.

14. Nick Beighton

  • Chief executive, Asos
  • Last year: 28

Asos boss Nick Beighton has shot up 14 places in the Power List this year.

Formerly founder Nick Robertson’s right-hand man, Beighton’s bold decisions and capable management since he replaced the Asos founder as chief executive two years ago have seen him well and truly emerge from Robertson’s shadow.

Pre-tax profits were up 14% in its last half-year, while international sales soared 54%, contributing to sales rising 38% over the period.

The stellar numbers are being emulated by young upstarts such as Boohoo and Missguided, but Beighton shows skill in maintaining such a performance from a more mature business. The original etailer continues to lead the way.

15. Steve Rowe

  • Chief executive, Marks & Spencer
  • Last year: 19

Steve Rowe has made an impact in his first year in retail’s hardest job.

He has not shied away from making tough decisions such as cutting 10% of stores and culling clothing lines and, since taking on the chief executive role, initially retained responsibility for M&S’s troublesome apparel division.

His recent appointment of Halfords chief executive Jill McDonald to take over that role raised eyebrows within the industry but demonstrates that, although he is an M&S lifer, Rowe is not afraid to break the M&S mould with external appointments.

Despite a rare rise in clothing and home like-for-likes over the golden quarter, he has not turned the tide yet as profits – and clothing sales – tumbled in its full-year results.

But with full-price sales up, there could green shoots in the offing for Rowe. 

16. John Rogers

  • Chief executive, Sainsbury’s Argos
  • Last year: 29

John Rogers won himself a promotion when Sainsbury’s – where he was chief financial officer – acquired Argos last year.

As well as playing a major part in the successful delivery of what was last year’s biggest retail acquisition, Rogers then became responsible for the integration of new business at Sainsbury’s.

Argos concessions have been rolled out into Sainsbury’s larger sheds at pace and Rogers has ordered the transformation of older Argos sites to its new digital format.

At the time of the deal, some argued that Argos would not fit with the more upmarket proposition at Sainsbury’s, but Rogers has wasted no time in getting it firing on all cylinders.

Argos’s new marketing campaign flaunts its market-leading delivery offer and reminds shoppers of the broad range of products it has on offer.

The general merchandise stalwart has rapidly become the jewel in Sainsbury’s crown as bumper festive sales bolstered the grocer’s stuttering food division.

17. Paula Nickolds

  • Managing director, John Lewis

John Lewis boss Paula Nickolds is a new entry this year.

Nickolds, an ambassador for Retail Week’s Be Inspired campaign, which aims to inspire and encourage future female leaders, beat stiff internal competition to the prized top job at John Lewis. She took over the reins from Andy Street, now Conservative mayor of West Midlands.

Although now in possession of one of the most coveted jobs in retail, Nickolds is still unproven in the top role.

She takes the helm at a tough moment for the department store business, which flourished under her predecessor by dint of clever marketing and reacting quickly to emerging consumer trends. Nickolds will have to guide one of the country’s best-loved retailers through turbulent times.

Her placing next year will reveal how skilfully she has navigated those choppy waters.

18. Sean Clarke

  • Chief executive, Asda
  • Last year: 14

Asda boss Sean Clarke would have been aware of the gargantuan task he faced when taking the reins at the Walmart-owned retailer a year ago, and his first 12 months in charge have proved tough.

The grocer’s latest financial update, revealed last month, showed a sales decline for the 11th consecutive quarter as Clarke grapples to return the business to growth.

However, green shoots of recovery are beginning to sprout and Clarke’s US paymasters have hailed “early signs of improvement in the customer value proposition”.

Clarke’s early work in sharpening prices, revitalising ranges and improving customer service wooed some 140,000 customers back to Asda during the golden quarter.

If Clarke can maintain that rate of progress, the eye-watering 7.5% sales slump it suffered in the three months to June 2016 will soon become a distant memory.

19. Matt Davies

  • UK chief executive, Tesco
  • Last year: 22

Tesco’s turnaround has gathered pace over the past 12 months and the grocer’s UK boss Matt Davies has been central to its transformation.

While chief executive Dave Lewis has been distracted by group-wide issues, including the Serious Fraud Office investigation and merger talks with Booker, Davies has been entrusted to lead its core British division – a task he has accomplished with aplomb.

Operating profit at the UK and Ireland business surged almost 60% to £803m in the year to February 25, while full-year like-for-likes grew for the first time in seven years.

While Davies will be the first to admit that there is more work to be done, his efforts in improving customer service, rejuvenating its own-label proposition and bringing in concession partners such as Arcadia and Holland & Barrett have put Tesco firmly on the right track.

Davies, who is a big believer in the importance of company culture, is also an ambassador for Retail Week’s Be Inspired campaign.

20. Steve Murrells

  • Group chief executive, The Co-operative Group
  • Last year: 65

The biggest mover in this year’s Power List, Murrells jumps a whopping 45 places after landing the top job at the Co-op.

The former Tesco exec joined the mutual back in 2012 and led its food business for almost five years, transforming its fortunes by focusing on the increasing convenience sector, rejuvenating its own-brand ranges and launching a new membership proposition.

According to Kantar data, that strategy has helped the Co-op establish itself as one of the most consistent performers in the grocery sector, increasing sales 2.6% in the 12 weeks to April 23.

Murrells inherited the group chief executive role from Richard Pennycook in March and is already setting his sights on the “renewal” phase of its turnaround plan.

He has tasked group director of renewal Rod Bulmer with setting out the creative side of that plan as it eyes entry into new markets to drive future growth.

21. Tim Steiner

  • Chief executive, Ocado
  • Last year: 15

A third consecutive year of profit has not been enough to prevent Ocado boss Tim Steiner slipping out of the top 20.

While its core online grocery business continues to defy doubters – and has seemingly resisted the initial onslaught from Amazon Fresh’s London arrival – Steiner’s long-awaited international deal for Ocado’s Smart Platform has been a bit of a damp squib.

The partnership with an unnamed “European retailer” for its know-how and support – but not its fulfilment prowess – has left investors who were told this was the driver of future growth for the business unimpressed.

A tie-up with Dobbies Garden Centres has done little to inspire investors, but any disgruntled shareholders could be placated if speculation surrounding a partnership with Marks & Spencer comes to fruition. 

22. Christian Härtnagel

  • UK chief executive, Lidl

The youngest chief executive in British grocery, Härtnagel makes his debut in the Power List after succeeding Ronny Gottschlich as Lidl’s UK boss last September at the age of 34.

Härtnagel, who was drafted in from Lidl’s Austrian business, had no prior knowledge of the UK market. Thrown in at the deep end in one of the world’s most competitive retail markets, he remains largely unproven on these shores.

Kantar numbers have shown that Lidl has fallen behind its great rival Aldi over the past year. However, in the most recent period, its sales accelerated and the discounter continues to press ahead with its expansion plans.

It remains on course to open 50 new stores in 2017 and has started to introduce its new ‘metropolitan’ shop format in more densely populated locations.

The opening of a clutch of new distribution centres and the green light for a new £70m London HQ should provide further foundations for future growth. 

23. Mike Ashley

  • Founder and chief executive, Sports Direct
  • Last year: 21

It’s been far from a vintage year for the Sports Direct founder and boss Mike Ashley as his business continued to flounder under the pressures of shareholder mutiny, a sliding share price and a raft of senior exits, including former chief executive Dave Forsey.

The business posted a 57% slump in underlying pre-tax profit at the half-year and is grappling with a surge in costs as its hedging expired.

Ashley decided to take matters into his own hands, taking on the day-to-day running of Sports Direct following Forsey’s departure.

All of this drama has not prevented the entrepreneur hitting the acquisition trail.

While buying a $51.1m corporate plane was not his finest PR move, the Sports Direct founder has also made a series of canny (or bewildering, depending on who you ask) investments, including snapping up an 11% stake in French Connection and buying Agent Provocateur out of administration.

Ashley famously said he cannot be “house-trained”. While Sports Direct may not be at the height of its powers at the moment, he is nevertheless a figure the industry cannot stop watching.

24. Simon Arora

  • Chief executive, B&M
  • Last year: 24

The Cambridge-educated B&M boss holds steady on this year’s list. The value retailer, which is marked a star performer on many a City analyst’s buy lists, posted an 18.4% jump in pre-tax profits in its last full-year results.

Arora has also bucked the industry trend of merely maintaining and even shrinking bricks-and-mortar estates, and pushed on with an aggressive physical expansion. B&M plans to open 40 to 50 new stores over the next year and has upped its overall target of UK outlets to 950.

And while many businesses have been cowed by Brexit, the B&M boss said his business has been bolstered by the result because its “outstanding value-for-money proposition” means it is “well-placed to continue to win market share”.

While rival Poundland has acquired businesses and changed its pricing strategy, B&M has been focused on business as usual – a strategy that looks set to bring Arora even more success in the year ahead.

25. Ray Kelvin

  • Chief executive, Ted Baker
  • Last year: 36

Ted Baker founder Ray Kelvin is up 11 places this year, thanks to his status as a constant shining light in an industry under pressure.

The eccentric and inimitable Kelvin is one of the few retailers to have founded a business and remained in place as chief executive as it matures, and his skilled management of the Ted Baker empire has enabled it to flourish.

Pre-tax profits rose 12% while sales were up 16% in the last full year – almost unheard of for an established fashion retailer with a store estate.

Kelvin’s laser focus on quality, customer and brand have been rewarded. In a fashion marketplace rife with discounting, where retailers manically chase ever shorter lead times, Ted holds its own.

26. Doug Gurr

  • UK country manager, Amazon
  • Last year: 35

Doug Gurr has been in his role at the helm of Amazon’s UK arm for a little over a year, but the business has expanded in a variety of ways under his stewardship.

Between rolling out Amazon Fresh and its new business-to-business platform, and bolstering the online giant’s UK workforce with 5,000 new hires this year alone, Gurr has led the retailer through a series of initiatives that means he jumps up the rankings in this year’s list.

The former Asda executive has also overseen a series of futuristic launches, including the etail powerhouse’s first tentative drone delivery. In recent months, it has also quietly rolled out its own-brand fashion offering for UK shoppers.

However, it’s not clear whether many – or even any – of these bold decisions have been driven by Gurr or ordered from on high by Bezos.

27. Gillian Drakeford

  • UK country manager, Ikea
  • Last year: 47

Since returning from a long stint running Ikea’s China division, Drakeford – an Ikea lifer – has upped the ante at the furniture giant’s UK arm, particularly on the property front.

Drakeford oversaw the opening of a new store in Reading – the first superstore in the UK for over seven years – and has set the ball rolling on mega-sheds in Sheffield, Exeter, Greenwich and Sussex.

Drakeford, an ambassador for Retail Week’s Be Inspired campaign, is ambitious and wants to double the size of the UK business by 2020. Her aim is to reach more people and, as well as opening big sheds, she is ramping up Ikea’s convenience credentials.

Ikea has opened a range of smaller stores, dubbed ‘order and collection points’, in locations including Westfield Stratford.

Drakeford has not yet committed to a roll-out of the small stores as the new proposition is explored and tweaked.

But the construction of two new distribution centres in London, a new web platform and a radical Ikea pop-up kitchen store suggests she is determined to drag Ikea into the multichannel age of retailing.

28. Rob Collins

  • Managing director, Waitrose
  • Last year: 26

Waitrose boss Rob Collins, now more than a year into the role, is making his mark at the Queen’s grocer despite facing some challenges.

As food consumption patterns change on the back of trends such as eating out, food-on-the-go and purchasing ‘for tonight’, Collins is adapting Waitrose to take advantage of the blurring lines between food shopping and food service.

Earlier this year, he took Retail Week on a tour of the overhauled store in London’s Barbican, where butcher’s and fishmonger’s counters are now “a halfway house between a service counter and a ready meal”, and new in-store venture The Kitchen offers freshly cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner prepared by chefs in an open kitchen.

Collins told Retail Week: “The thing I constantly think about is: ‘Where is there an opportunity for us to be different and to make Waitrose even more “Waitrose”?’”

The retailer has switched its focus towards investment in existing branches, including building food service rather than new openings, as it prepares for the future.

29. Andy Bond

  • Chief executive, Pepkor Europe
  • Last year: 49

Former Asda boss Andy Bond has had a busy year. Following the sudden departure of Poundland chief executive Kevin O’Byrne, who held the role for just four months before being wooed by Sainsbury’s, Bond stepped in at the helm of the value retailer.

Since then he has overseen a raft of changes across the Steinhoff-owned business including launching multiple price points, rolling out Pep&Co shop-in-shops and putting 99p Stores into administration just over a year after acquiring it.

Whether or not the backing of South African billionaire Christo Wiese may have given Bond more license to take risks, there is no denying he is making waves and reinventing single-price retail.

30. Sir Philip Green

  • Founder, Arcadia
  • Last year: 23

The past year has been one that Arcadia boss Sir Philip Green will be glad to see the back of.

The fallout from the collapse of BHS proved a testing time for the tycoon. He was rarely out of the headlines as MPs and the media targeted him over the fate of pensioners whose money was jeopardised by the department store group’s demise.

Green made a voluntary contribution of £363m to settle the pension row but a war of words with Frank Field MP, chair of Parliament’s work and pensions committee and BHS inquisitor in chief, rumbled on.

Green’s Arcadia empire has also encountered difficulties with profits nosediving 16% in its last financial year.

Green however now hopes to be able to focus once again on his Arcadia empire, including flagship brand Topshop, which has reportedly suffered difficult trading.

He is also on the hunt for a raft of new managers for his chains following the exits of several directors, including Topshop boss Mary Homer – a departure said by both to be amicable.


31. Andy Higginson

  • Chairman, Morrisons and N Brown
  • Last year: 31

Former Tesco executive Andy Higginson’s expertise and calming influence have provided the perfect sounding board in the c-suites of Morrisons and N Brown, both of which he serves as chairman.

His experience has proved an invaluable resource for Morrisons boss David Potts’s turnaround bid, which has picked up a head of steam over the past year. He also spearheaded the launch of the grocer’s efforts to bring on board at least 200 new British suppliers by the end of 2017 as it pushes provenance ahead of Britain’s exit from the EU.

At N Brown, Higginson has been involved in a similar transformation plan, where cash has been ploughed into improving its infrastructure. And he would surely have been influential in striking the tie-up it unveiled earlier this year to sell Simply Be and Jacamo lines on Tesco’s clothing and general merchandise website.   

32. Sir Ian Cheshire

  • Chairman, Debenhams
  • Last year: 42

Retail doyen Sir Ian Cheshire has moved up 10 places this year, thanks to his very active role in chairing Debenhams.

Cheshire has established a new senior team at Debenhams, placing Amazon graduate Sergio Bucher at the helm, ably supported by Debenhams lifer Suzanne Harlow.

New boss Bucher has unveiled a raft of wide-reaching strategic changes, which include heralding the advent of ‘social shopping’, reinventing own-brand, closing under-performing stores and tearing up a risk-averse culture.

Cheshire has also beefed up Debenhams’ board, hiring Space NK founder Nicky Kinnaird and international retail expert Lisa Myers.

While the department store market is in an unenviable state at the moment, Cheshire has drafted in a crack team that places Debenhams in the best possible position for such a challenge.

33. Katie Bickerstaffe

  • UK and Ireland chief executive, Dixons Carphone
  • Last year: 41

Katie Bickerstaffe soars up the Retail Week Power List following yet another stunning set of results for Dixons Carphone’s UK and Irish business, which included a 6% like-for-like sales jump in its half-year and its biggest ever Black Friday.

Since ably managing the integration of Dixons and Carphone Warehouse, Bickerstaffe has overseen the full roll-out of its three-in-one stores, which bring together Currys, PC World and Carphone Warehouse under one roof.

Bickerstaffe, who was a management trainee at Unilever before moving up through PepsiCo, Dyson, Somerfield and Kwik Save, is also an ambassador of Retail Week’s Be Inspired campaign, which encourages the next generation of female retail leaders.

What’s more, Sebastian James’ right-hand woman is instrumental in the delivery of his seemingly unending ambitions, which now include a pay-monthly membership scheme.

34. Theo Paphitis

  • Chief executive, Theo Paphitis Retail Group
  • Last year: 30

Theo Paphitis is one of the most famous businessmen in the UK, with a retail empire that includes Ryman, Robert Dyas and fast-growing lingerie chain Boux Avenue. However, his Twitter profile still simply reads “shopkeeper”.

It was a mixed year for Paphitis. Boux Avenue led a sales uplift at his group over Christmas and he intends to build on its success through an online focus and further franchise development. The ever-ambitious retailer has plans for 100 stores globally over the next two years.

However, things weren’t so rosy at his hardware chain Robert Dyas as changing consumer habits, the impact of the weaker pound, increasing labour costs, the apprenticeship levy and the “archaic system of business rates” culminated in a perfect storm, according to Paphitis.

35. Malcolm Walker

  • Chief executive, Iceland
  • Last year: 40

Iceland co-founder and boss Walker has presided over a solid year at the frozen food specialist as sales and profits advanced.

Initiatives such as overhauls of Iceland stores, openings of larger out-of-town Food Warehouse shops and the ‘Power of Frozen’ marketing campaign have helped performance.

Iceland’s social media campaign during last summer’s UEFA European Championships won many an admirer, while the launch of its first dark store in Tipton has further developed its fast-growing online business.

Walker has also overseen the launch of new-format stores, which have helped Iceland to outpace the big four’s sales growth in recent months.

During the crucial 12-week period to December 31, Iceland grew sales 4.7% according to Nielsen, and it has maintained impressive momentum throughout the first six months of the year.

36. John Roberts

  • Founder and executive director,
  • Last year: 27

The larger-than-life founder of electricals etailer, John Roberts, slips down the Power List because he has stepped down as chief executive of the business he set up 17 years ago.

However, there’s no chance of the enigmatic Roberts sitting back and relaxing. He remains on the retailer’s board in the new position of founder and executive director, focused on “innovation and inspiring AO’s people”.

And few are as inspiring as Roberts. The entrepreneur set up AO following a £1 bet with a friend over a drink in the pub one Christmas Eve. It proved to be a very valuable bet – he floated the company on the stock market for £1.2bn in 2014.

Roberts is passionate about people. He recruits “not on qualifications, but on DNA”, encourages his staff to strike up a personal relationship with customers and gives them the autonomy to make financial decisions.

That freedom has paid off – not only is AO constantly voted one of the best companies to work for, it is also renowned for its exemplary customer service.

37. Christo Wiese

  • Investor
  • Last year: 17

Billionaire South African tycoon Christo Wiese has taken a tumble on this year’s Power List, despite Poundland’s move into multi-price retail.

When the New Look owner snapped up Poundland and made an audacious bid for Argos in 2016, it seemed to signal a wider assault on the UK high street.

However, a year on, apart from casting his eye over beds retailer Dreams, there has been little activity from the mogul who looked set to shake up the UK high street.

38. Philip Day

  • Owner, Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group
  • Last year: 62

Just five or six years ago, Philip Day was just the owner of a little-known knitwear specialist called The Edinburgh Woollen Mill. Now he’s vying to take over the high street.

Over that time he’s added Jane Norman, Peacocks and Austin Reed to his empire.

Of late, whenever there’s a brand on the chopping block, Day is there trying to buy it. He may have failed in his bid to buy BHS but is understood to have snapped up the Jaeger brand name.

Day, who bought Edinburgh Woollen Mill in a management buyout in 2002, has a good track record of turning around the brands he buys.

Peacocks has gone from strength to strength since he bought it out of administration in 2012, with sales and profits up over the past few years.

Day’s latest project is building his own department store. Named Days, the first store opened this month in Carmarthen and houses the entrepreneur’s growing array of brands under one roof.

39. Federico Marchetti

  • Chief executive, Yoox Net-a-Porter
  • Last year: 48

If you are a luxury shopper there’s a strong chance you are a Net-a-Porter shopper. The retailer is a must-visit destination for those with a sizeable budget and it continues to flourish under Yoox founder Federico Marchetti’s leadership.

It was a bold move when he snapped up Natalie Massenet’s Net-a-Porter in 2015. Merging two luxury etail powerhouses was laden with risks – however, Marchetti has ably averted them.

Profits and sales both rose 17% in the etailer’s last full-year results, with all business lines experiencing similar levels of growth.

Under his new five-year plan, Marchetti has set out his stall not only as a fashion authority but as a technological innovator. He believes that Yoox Net-a-Porter will be at the forefront of technology for the next decade.

The business continues to set the gold standard for innovation in luxury.

40. Angela Spindler

  • Chief executive, N Brown
  • Last year: 38

Since Angela Spindler took the helm at N Brown in 2013 she has worked on upheaving it from its catalogue roots and adopting a digital-first model. But the required level of investment has hit profits year after year, a key reason behind Spindler not progressing up the list.

However, she insists the retailer is done with transition and is now fully focused on growth.

Despite profits being hit, Spindler has achieved sales growth at the group’s power brands – JD Williams, Jacamo and Simply Be, a big focus for the retailer.

She has also pressed ahead with innovative projects, such as launching on Tesco’s online channel and developing tech incubator JDWorks, and has taken an active role as an ambassador for Retail Week’s Be Inspired campaign.

41. Frank Field

  • MP for Birkenhead

Labour MP Frank Field became a heavyweight influencer in the retail industry – or more specifically its ethics – when the demise of BHS catapulted his work and pensions select committee into the limelight.

His unforgettable description of Sir Philip Green as “the unacceptable face of capitalism” formed just part of his campaign to get justice for those left out of pocket after the department store chain collapsed with a vast pension deficit.

As chair of the committee, he led the parliamentary inquiry into the fall of BHS and called for Green to be stripped of his knighthood.

After making a voluntary payment of £363m to fill the pensions black hole, Green accused Field of treating him like a “political football”.

Who will Field target next in his quest for a fair and ethical business sector?

42. Elizabeth Fagan

  • UK managing director, Boots
  • Last year: 45

It is only a year since Elizabeth Fagan took the helm of Boots’s UK business and she has already made some tough decisions in order to modernise the retailer.

The pharmacist and beauty specialist cut 400 jobs in March at its flagging photo division, the third wave of job cuts the retailer has made over the past two years.

Fagan, who was previously in charge of the health and beauty retailer’s marketing division (she launched Boots’s famous ‘Here Come the Girls’ campaign) is one of the most influential women in UK retail. 

She has used her platform to help encourage career progression for other women in the sector and is an ambassador for Retail Week’s Be Inspired campaign. 

43. Anders Kristiansen

  • Chief executive, New Look
  • Last year: 34

Anders Kristiansen has had a tough year at the helm of New Look.

Full-year EBITDA tumbled 31.8% to £155m in the year to March 25 due to a lacklustre sales performance. Like-for-like sales plunged 6.8% in its core UK business.

Kristiansen said that the retail environment is now more competitive than ever and there has been a shift in consumer mindset to a ‘buy now, wear now’ mentality.

He is making sure New Look is reacting to this. It has improved buying processes so it can bring new clothes to store faster than ever.

Kristiansen is not letting this bad spell distract him, however, and is gunning for growth in both China and menswear – both lucrative potential markets.

44. Business rates


The current business rates system has been described by retailers as archaic and, for some, has become a barrier to growth.

The issue reared its head in the run-up to Chancellor Philip Hammond’s spring Budget, when some businesses were outraged by the impending hike in costs caused by the latest revaluation – especially those with high property concentration in or around London.

Retailers argue that the rates are unfairly weighted towards those with bricks-and-mortar stores, essentially giving pureplay operators a tax-light advantage.

With the Conservatives promising a review of the business rates system in their manifesto, this issue is likely to stay high on the agenda in the year ahead.

45. Matt Brittin

  • EMEA president, Google

Google EMEA boss Matt Brittin is a new entrant to this year’s Power List because of the online Goliath’s undeniable hold over the retail industry.

With online an increasingly important channel, where would any retailer be without a high listing on Google?

Brittin’s Google is pushing further into the retail sector. From launching AI-enabled voice assistant Google Home to collaborating with H&M-owned fashion retailer Ivyrevel on the ‘Data Dress’, the tech supplier has made strides towards making machine learning relevant for retailers.

Brittin has been at the helm of Google’s EMEA operations since 2014 and has sat on Sainsbury’s non-executive board since 2011.

His increased focus on retail, combined with Google’s pre-eminence in the sector and beyond, mean he is well placed to exercise greater influence over how customers shop in the years to come.

46. Jacqueline Gold

  • Chief executive, Ann Summers
  • Last year: 46

Jacqueline Gold continued to make her voice heard across the retail sector over the past year.

She weighed in on all manner of issues affecting retailers, ranging from Brexit to business rates.

At Ann Summers, profits were flat in its last financial year. However, Gold has kick-started initiatives that should get it back into growth.

The retailer has expanded its wholesale business and kicked off a store refurbishment programme over the past year.

Gold has also continued to champion women in business, using her platform to fight for equal pay and bring more women into retailers’ boardrooms through Retail Week’s Be Inspired campaign.

Her fearlessness to take on the big issues facing the retail sector have established Gold as a go-to barometer on the health and vitality of the industry.

47. John Allan

  • Chairman, Tesco
  • Last year: 43

Although his well-intentioned faux pas at Retail Week Live hit the headlines – he championed the case of women in non-exec roles by claiming white men on boards were an “endangered species” – it has been another largely positive year for Allan.

The Tesco chairman’s expertise proved vital as the grocer agreed terms on a £3.7bn merger with Booker, and his calm head would have been a reassuring presence for boss Dave Lewis as he faced the challenges presented by the Serious Fraud Office investigation.

However, Allan could not convince non-executive director Richard Cousins to remain on the board after he disagreed with the rationale for buying Booker.

Allan will have an equally key role in the coming year as Tesco negotiates a probe by the Competition and Markets Authority into the Booker acquisition and bids to convince disgruntled shareholders of the merits of the merger.  

48. Carol Kane and Mahmud Kamani

  • Joint chief executives, Boohoo
  • Last year: 89

Boohoo bosses Carol Kane and Mahmud Kamani had a superlative 2016.

The pair have masterminded a year of acquisitions, snapping up both Pretty Little Thing, set up by Kamani’s sons Adam and Umar, and Nasty Gal, founded by US entrepreneur Sophia Amoruso.

The acquisitions add to Boohoo’s already extensive offer, allowing it to chase the teen and 20-something market ever more aggressively while going into new markets, such as menswear and kidswear.

On top of that, the duo doubled pre-tax profits last year and grew sales by 51%. This stellar performance secured their place in the top half of the Power List.

49. Ian Filby

  • Chief executive, DFS
  • Last year: 53

Ian Filby moves up four places in the Power List, just squeezing into the top half of the table.

Although he regularly jokes about DFS’s steady and consistent performance, as a big-ticket retailer in this current climate its growth warrants celebration.

Profits rose 3.1% and sales 6.8% in its half-year to January 2017, when the retailer accelerated its installation of Dwell shop-in-shops and continued to reap the benefits of its proven strategy.

Despite recently slipping out of the FTSE 250, Filby has kept sales motoring with a range of growth initiatives including smaller-format stores to target urban centres.

Since the Brexit vote, he has brought more of the retailer’s manufacturing onshore and flaunted its British credentials with a targeted marketing campaign and sponsorship of Team GB at the Rio Olympics.

As a member of the BRC board and chair of its policy board, Filby also plays an important role in representing the industry more widely.

50. Lord Rose

  • Chairman, Ocado and Fat Face
  • Last year: 50

Former M&S boss Lord Rose’s failure in his attempt to keep the UK in Europe – he led the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign – has hit one of the businesses he chairs.

Rose, who admitted that his campaign was a “train crash”, has witnessed Fat Face renegotiate its debts to give it greater headroom.

The fashion retailer said that currency pressures following the EU referendum vote had forced it to take the decision.

Lord Rose’s other big retail interest, Ocado, is also keeping him busy and may well require his help to land a big contract.

There has been speculation that M&S may tie up with the etailer for its online food launch later this year.


51. Richard Pennycook

  • Chairman, Fenwick and The Hut Group
  • Last year: 8

Richard Pennycook falls down the list this year as he has stepped back from executive life. And he deserves the break – Pennycook will go down in history as the man who saved The Co-op.

He was drafted in as chief executive after his predecessor Euan Sutherland quit and branded the mutual “ungovernable”.

But Pennycook proved him wrong. He brought its ailing bank back from the brink, forced through vital governance reform and rebuilt the business around its members.

Now that the business is back in growth, he has decided to return to his original plan of going plural.

Already chairman of fast-growing online business The Hut Group, last month Pennycook became chairman of department store Fenwick – the first person outside the Fenwick family to take on the role.

He has also found time to promote and encourage female career development through his role as an ambassador for Retail Week’s Be Inspired campaign.

52. Angela Ahrendts

  • Senior vice-president, Apple Retail
  • Last year: 32

It’s a steep fall down the list for Apple’s retail guru Angela Ahrendts after the tech giant’s sales and profits fell for the first time in 15 years in its last financial year.

Sales of the iPhone are stalling and Apple has been accused of losing its innovation mojo. The same could be said of its stores.

Big things were expected from Ahrendts, who successfully reinvented Burberry before she joined Apple, but her tenure has been a bit of a damp squib.

She says her focus is to make Apple’s stores “sleeker and smarter”. However, in today’s retail world, where theatre and experience are increasingly what bring customers to store, is sleek and smart good enough?

53. Andrew Harrison

  • Deputy chief executive, Dixons Carphone, and non-executive director, Ocado
  • Last year: 54

It has been another phenomenal year for Dixons Carphone and deputy chief executive Andrew Harrison has certainly played his part.

Harrison, who used to manage the Carphone Warehouse business before the merger with Dixons, has taken on responsibility for the group’s Connected World Services division, a business that boss James believes is a £1bn opportunity.

Harrison has much experience in scaling businesses. He played a pivotal role in Carphone Warehouse’s successful Stateside venture with US retailer Best Buy, from which it was bought out for £838m in 2012.

Dixons Carphone’s £1bn opportunity looks to be in safe hands.

54. Iñigo de Llano

  • UK and Ireland managing director, Inditex
  • Last year: 59

Iñigo de Llano may not be a familiar name, or face – Retail Week has yet to see a photograph of the elusive executive – but the UK boss of Zara’s parent company certainly gets results.

During a difficult time for fashion, Zara has been a shining star. In its last reported financial results, its sales jumped 8.2% and pre-tax profits surged 18.7% to £58.3m.

Zara continues to make its mark on the British high street and is a firm fashion favourite for many shoppers.

De Llano has focused on opening bigger flagship stores in the UK and earlier this year opened its largest shop in the country, a 42,000 sq ft two-floor unit in Westfield London.

Zara is the growth driver for Inditex, both in the UK and globally. However, De Llano has also found time to expand its other fascias in the UK, particularly Stradivarius, which opened its second and third UK stores on Oxford Street and in Manchester’s Trafford Centre last year.

55. Michael Ward

  • Managing director, Harrods
  • Last year: 55

This time last year Michael Ward was preparing to leave Harrods, the department store he has run for the past 12 years.

That all changed after the EU referendum. Unsure how Brexit would impact the luxury retailer, Harrods’ Qatari owners asked Ward to stay in case times got tough.

And it is easy to see why. Ward has helped notch up seven consecutive years of record profits and earnings soared 40% to £178m in its last financial year.

No one knows luxury like Ward and he has successfully maintained Harrods’ position as the must-visit destination for global luxury shoppers. In fact, it is said that £1 in every £5 spent by Chinese tourists in Britain goes through Harrods’ tills.

56. Euan Sutherland

  • Chief executive, SuperGroup
  • Last year: 64

Just a few years ago, a SuperGroup update that did not contain surprises would be the biggest surprise of all.

Despite the popularity of Superdry’s wares, the group’s inconsistent performance had scared some investors. However, former B&Q and Co-op boss Euan Sutherland has changed all that and brought some much-needed stability to the business.

Under his guidance, Superdry has broadened its appeal overseas and extended its product categories to become “a British lifestyle brand with global appeal”.

Sales at the retailer are soaring and, despite a recent fall in gross margin driven by the strength in its wholesale channel, profits continue to rise.

With major technology and supply chain overhauls under way, Sutherland is getting SuperGroup in fine shape to take on the world.

57. Steve Clarke

  • Chief executive, WHSmith
  • Last year: 58

When Kate Swann left WHSmith in 2013, observers believed there was not much growth left in the stationery retailer.

WHSmith’s high street sales had been in decline for many years – propped up by its travel division – and the retailer achieved profit growth through ruthless cost-cutting.

However, Steve Clarke has continued in the same vein and earnings are still on the up.

The WHSmith boss is trying to breathe new life into the business. It has installed more than 160 Post Offices and brought Game and M&S Food concessions into stores.

Clarke will hope such initiatives can start driving sales growth so he can finally retire his axe.

58. Carlos Duarte

  • UK and Ireland country manager, H&M
  • Last year: 51

H&M’s Carlos Duarte told Retail Week that the UK was the toughest retail market in the world last year. Judging from the fashion giant’s latest financials, this is taking its toll.

UK profits tumbled 17.3% in the year to November 30, 2015. However, Duarte has some reason to be cheerful: store sales increased 5.9% over the same period.

This has given him the confidence to hit the expansion trail.

H&M, which has more than 260 stores in the UK and Ireland, is set to open 17 new stores in the region in its current financial year and in late 2016 opened its biggest UK store yet in Westfield London.

The Portuguese businessman has made the UK – H&M’s third largest country by sales – a trailblazing market for the fashion giant.

It launched its accessories fascia & Other Stories in London back in 2013 and will unveil its new upmarket fascia Arket in the city later this year.

59. Paul McGowan

  • Chairman, HMV, and executive chairman, Hilco
  • Last year: 52

It has been a relatively quiet year for Paul McGowan.

HMV – Hilco’s flagship retail business, which he chairs – posted widening pre-tax losses of £8.8m in its last financial year after sales of physical CDs declined 11.7% in 2016 and DVD sales plunged 17%.

Sales at HMV, which Hilco rescued from administration in 2013, also spiralled.

Despite this fall in sales, HMV has been stealing entertainment market share from leader Amazon.

At Hilco, McGowan moved up to executive chairman during the year and Henry Foster replaced him as chief executive.

Despite the raft of distress sales in retail, Hilco has only picked up one major business over the past year: Staples. The restructuring specialist rebranded the stationery retailer Office Outlet earlier this year, but has been tight-lipped about its plans for the business.

60. Paul Kelly

  • Group managing director, Selfridges
  • Last year: 60

Selfridges, the department store chain Paul Kelly has led for the past 13 years, remains the bastion of experiential retail.

A visit to its stores is as much theatre as retail, and consumers are surprised by an ever-changing array of brands and events.

Kelly, a former managing director of Irish department store Brown Thomas, has not rested on his laurels. He has ploughed major investment into stores, particularly the Oxford Street flagship.

In fact, operating profit took a slight dip – down 1.9% to £152m in its last financial year – as Selfridges invested £300m into refurbishing the iconic central London store.

The investment is understood to be the biggest single capital investment by a department store anywhere in the world.

It should help Selfridges maintain its position as one of the most inspirational stores in the world.

61. The weather

  • Last year: 44

The weather has long been a foe of the retail sector. However, retailers – particularly those in the fashion arena – are now finding ways to respond to increasingly unpredictable weather patterns.

Fashion specialists are producing more collections, volumes of heavy winter items such as jackets and coats have been reduced, and lead times have been shortened substantially.

That said, Primark, Next and H&M are just a few of the retailers that have blamed the weather for weaker sales throughout the year, so there is still much to do before this excuse can be banished entirely.

62. Nitin Passi

  • Chief executive, Missguided

Missguided founder Nitin Passi crashes into the Power List after an astronomical rise.

The young fashion etailer is one of the most talked-about businesses of the year, helped by the opening of its eye-catching, millennial-friendly first store at Westfield Stratford. A second shop is due to open at Bluewater this month (June).

The retailer is on a roll right now. Sales surged 75% to £206m in the year to March 2017 and it said there had been “strong underlying profit growth” year on year.

Missguided is the brainchild of Passi, who set up the business in 2009. Based in Manchester, the retailer is now gaining global appeal. International sales grew by 130% and now account for more than 40% of total revenue.

Passi knows how to sell to young fashion lovers. Missguided dominates on social media, has formed collaborations with stars and has a constant stream of the latest trends dropping on its website.

Asos, watch out.

63. Ian Kellett

  • Chief executive, Pets at Home
  • Last year: 61

It’s been a solid first year in charge for Pets at Home boss Ian Kellett.

Despite a rise in full-year sales, the pets specialist posted a slight dip in profits in its last full-year results.

Kellett, who has been at Pets at Home for more than 10 years, has remained relatively under the radar since he was promoted from his position as boss of its retail arm to chief executive of the group last year.

Services, such as in-store vets and grooming, are driving growth at the retailer. Kellett will seek to develop the potential of this division to get the business purring again.

64. Steve Caunce

  • Chief executive,

Steve Caunce is a new entry on the Retail Week Power List after stepping into AO founder John Roberts’s formidable shoes earlier this year.

Caunce has been instrumental throughout the etailer’s growth to date, working closely alongside Roberts to steer AO’s recent venture into Germany and Holland and launching into computing in the UK.

But in his new role as chief executive, the work has only just begun.

With ambitions to become the biggest electricals retailer in Europe, Caunce is now charged with replicating AO’s success in new territories, as well as navigating the impact of the slumped pound on the retailer’s sourcing costs.

International expansion costs have taken their toll on the retailer’s bottom line, but AO continues to deliver double-digit sales growth.

65. Peter Davis

  • UK and Ireland managing director, Bunnings
  • Last year: 73

Peter Davis, known as PJ, rises up the list this year as Bunnings beds into the UK market.

The retailer’s owner, Australian conglomerate Wesfarmers, made waves when it snapped up Homebase early last year.

The talk of the DIY sector, Bunnings is the market leader in Australia and its entry into the UK threatens to make B&Q quake in its steel-toecap boots.

Davis has more than 40 years’ experience in DIY and has been instrumental in growing Bunnings Down Under since joining the business in 1983.

He has been hard at work during his first year in charge of the UK. He has cleared out old ranges and introduced Bunnings’ ‘lowest prices, widest range, best service’ proposition.

Davis has also opened three Bunnings Warehouse-branded stores, which he says have been well received by customers, and aims to rebadge Homebase’s full estate over the next three to five years.

66. David Tyler

  • Chairman, Sainsbury’s
  • Last year: 57

Sainsbury’s chairman David Tyler played a pivotal role in the grocer’s successful bid for Argos early last year.

However, now that the general merchandise retailer is part of the Sainsbury’s family, chief executive Mike Coupe and Sainsbury’s Argos boss John Rogers have taken centre stage.

Tyler, who has chaired Sainsbury’s since 2009, has provided invaluable advice for the pair as they seek to integrate the two retail powerhouses.

However, he found himself in a spot of bother earlier this year as it was uncovered that he used Sainsbury’s staff and suppliers to revamp his second home.

Tyler, a highly respected figure in the City, was sanctioned by the Sainsbury’s board for what it said were “material breaches” of its policies.

67. Ian Grabiner

  • Chief executive, Arcadia
  • Last year: 56

Ian Grabiner continues to fall down the Power List as the BHS debacle impacts his reputation.

Grabiner was one of many of Sir Philip Green’s cohorts hauled in front of MPs last year to explain how the department store chain ended up in the hands of twice-bankrupt racing-car driver Dominic Chappell.

Meanwhile, Arcadia has been struggling of late with operating profits plunging 16% in its last financial year.

Grabiner’s task of getting it back on track is made much more difficult by the fact he has lost his key lieutenants across the business and the year.

It will be a busy year ahead for Grabiner.

68. Sergio Bucher

  • Chief executive, Debenhams
  • Last year: 99

Sergio Bucher was yet to start his role as chief executive of Debenhams when Retail Week’s Power List was published last year, but big things were expected from the new hire.

The department store sector is under pressure and new, inventive methods are needed to keep customers coming into store.

Bucher’s answer is to make Debenhams a destination, digital and different.

He wants to make shopping social, not by encouraging shoppers to check in on Facebook, but by enticing them to spend a day out in store with friends and family.

Bucher plans to deploy new exciting products, services and experiences as incentives.

All eyes are on the former Amazon man to see if he can put his plan into action.

69. Matthew Moulding

  • Chief executive, The Hut Group
  • Last year: 75

In Matthew Moulding’s own words, it has been a “step-change” year for the business he founded.

Profits and revenues have soared at the online retail group, which owns sites including MyProtein and Zavvi.

Moulding, who was a protégé of Phones4U tycoon John Caudwell, is fast building an empire and made acquisitions totalling more than £60m in The Hut Group’s last financial year.

Speculation continues to circulate that the fast-growing retailer will soon seek an IPO.

If it can continue notching up the impressive growth figures it has done last year, when profits surged a whopping 67% to £50m, it will be a very popular stock.

70. Ajay Kavan

  • Vice-president, Amazon Fresh
  • Last year: 98

Ajay Kavan has presided over one of the most hotly anticipated launches in UK retail: Amazon Fresh.

Kavan, a key player in Amazon’s UK business for the past six years, has rolled out the etailer’s grocery offer to 266 postcodes in London over the past year.

It may be early days for Amazon Fresh – six months after launch it was estimated the business had taken just 0.7% of the online market – but it has nevertheless got the UK’s supermarket groups worried.

All eyes in the grocery world are firmly focused on Kavan.

71. The administrators


Jaeger, Jones Bootmaker and Agent Provocateur – these are just some of the retail names that have fallen into administration since the turn of the year.

As pressure on the sector heats up more businesses are tipped to bite the dust, meaning the administrators that manage the process will play an increasingly crucial role.

Businesses such as KPMG, AlixPartners, PwC et al will determine if these embattled companies have a future and in whose hands they are most likely to survive.

72. Andrew Livingston

  • Chief executive, Screwfix
  • Last year: 82

Andrew Livingston soars up the Power List as he continues to build a multichannel pioneer in Screwfix.

The key to its success is putting the customer at the heart of its offer.

Livingston understands what his tradesmen customers want – knowledgeable staff, speedy transactions and store opening times that fit with their working hours – and gives it to them.

The retailer is opening a new store every week to make it more convenient for shoppers and is using its shops as multichannel hubs.

Builders can pick up click-and-collect orders five minutes after ordering and it is piloting two-hour delivery slots.

The initiatives have helped Screwfix’s sales motor – like-for-likes jumped 13.8% in its most recent financial year – and make the specialist retailer the star of the Kingfisher business.

73. José Neves

  • Chief executive, Farfetch

Farfetch is one of the most talked-about firms in retail. The boutique platform has become a challenger to businesses such as Net-a-Porter.

Portuguese entrepreneur José Neves founded the business, which allows fashion retailers to sell without having to invest in their own infrastructure, back in 2008.

Farfetch is a phenomenon and its popularity is soaring. In 2015 – its last reported financial year – sales rocketed two thirds to more than £300m. That is expected to have grown to £800m in 2016.

It is also constantly innovating. It moved into physical retail when it acquired London-based boutique Browns in 2015 and has used the store to test new technologies, recently opening its hotly anticipated store of the future which uses tech to bridge online and offline.

Meanwhile, its Farfetch Black and White arm opens up its platform to other fashion brands. It has already launched websites for DKNY and Manolo Blahnik.

With Net-a-Porter founder Dame Natalie Massenet on board as co-chairman, Farfetch is set up to replicate Net’s success.

74. Chris Dawson

  • Founder, The Range

Chris Dawson catapults into the Power List for the first time. Dubbed the Del Boy of retail, he has certainly been on a journey reminiscent of the Only Fools and Horses character.

After leaving school with no qualifications, Dawson became a market trader and is now reportedly worth £1.75bn.

He started out selling watches from a briefcase before hawking everything he could get his hands on from the back of a lorry.

He set up his own business, CDS – Chris Dawson Superstores – from a single store in his hometown, Plymouth, back in 1989 and now trades from 134 stores across the country.

The Range continues to grow at pace and Dawson wants to operate from 400 stores in the UK.

He added a layer of professionalism to The Range this year by drafting in former House of Fraser boss Nigel Oddy as chief executive, which some industry watchers believe could pave the way for a sale or float of the fast-growing retailer.

75. Roger Burnley

  • Deputy chief executive, Asda
  • Last year: 68

When last year’s Retail Week Power List came out, Roger Burnley had yet to start at Asda, but he was already being touted as the next chief executive of the Leeds-based grocer – including by then incumbent Andy Clarke.

The arrival of Sean Clarke may have ended this speculation, but many believe he will get the top job eventually.

In fact, Asda promoted Burnley to deputy chief executive when Clarke was appointed and international boss Dave Cheesewright claimed he was “a future CEO”.

Former Sainsbury’s man Burnley has only been in post at Asda since last October, but he is already understood to be driving change across the business.

It is early days and the grocer’s sales remain in decline. However, if anyone can help return Asda to past glories it’s Burnley, who was part of the team that helped Archie Norman and Allan Leighton revive the grocer in the 1990s.


76. Karen Hubbard

  • Chief executive, Card Factory

Karen Hubbard enters the Power List for the first time after completing her first full year at the helm of Card Factory.

Profits may have dipped at the low-price card specialist after a drop in footfall, but Hubbard is still powering on with expansion.

She is eyeing 1,200 stores for Card Factory, which currently trades from 865 locations.

The retailer is also pushing further into retail parks after an enthusiastic customer response to its first out-of-town stores.

Hubbard is something of an expert in low-price retail. She arrived at Card Factory from B&M, where she was chief operating officer, and has spent five years at Asda.

She will need to draw on that value expertise to get Card Factory firing on all cylinders again.

77. Mike Logue

  • Chief executive, Dreams

Mike Logue is the architect of an impressive turnaround at Dreams.

Drafted into the beds retailer after it plunged into administration in 2013, in three short years he transformed the business, which has moved from a £5m loss to a £32m profit.

In its most recent year – the third and final year of its turnaround plan – profits surged 136% and sales jumped 21%.

Logue, former UK managing director of Mothercare, has focused on driving efficiencies, improving service and revamping stores and product.

The turnaround has been so successful that bidders are lining up to buy Dreams from private-equity owner Sun European Partners, with the business valued at around £400m.

Logue should sleep peacefully now his monumental turnaround has been put to bed.

78. Mark Newton-Jones

  • Chief executive, Mothercare
  • Last year: 76

Despite a profit fall in its last financial year, Mothercare boss Mark Newton-Jones said the past year was a “watershed moment” for the retailer.

In the UK losses were narrowed with much-increased profitability in the second half.

“We were losing £25m a few years ago and to see that come back means that the first phase of our turnaround is complete,” he said upon unveiling the results.

Newton-Jones admits that Mothercare “hit a bump” in the road in its first half, when profits took a nosedive.

No one is more adept at boosting team morale than Newton-Jones, who made great strides at reviving once ailing catalogue retailer Shop Direct before he arrived at Mothercare.

His strong guardianship should help the mother-and-baby retailer get over recent teething problems and return to growth.

79. Stacey Cartwright

  • Chief executive, Harvey Nichols
  • Last year: 72

It has not been a vintage year for Harvey Nichols boss Stacey Cartwright.

Profits more than halved at the department store business after performance was disrupted by a store revamp at its Knightsbridge flagship.

However, Cartwright said the extensive refurbishment work will put the retailer “back on the map”.

The revamp includes a new menswear department and transformation of the beauty hall to incorporate manicure and blow-dry bars, as well as a cocktail bar.

With experiences increasingly critical for department stores, the investment could be well timed for Harvey Nichols. However, the proof is in the pudding.

80. Simon King

  • Chief executive, Wickes
  • Last year: 79

Wickes has been the jewel in owner Travis Perkins’ crown this year.

Boss Simon King has focused on rolling out a new store format to create a “simpler shopping experience”.

The format is designed to make it quicker for trade customers to buy products, while providing more inspiration for DIY customers through improved kitchen and bathroom displays and design centres.

King has refitted 46 Wickes stores over 2016 and is pushing ahead with the roll-out this year.

Wickes has also improved its online offer and now offers one-hour click-and-collect, one-hour time slots for home deliveries and same-day delivery.

However, King – a former Tesco executive – faces stiff competition both from Screwfix and new entrant Bunnings. He will need to hammer home Wickes’s easy shopping experience if he is to retain his trade shoppers’ loyalty.

81. Darren Blackhurst

  • Group commercial director, Morrisons
  • Last year: 80

Darren Blackhurst has set about quietly turning around Morrisons.

One of his big initiatives over the year has been to improve supplier relations, which he believes will help to push forward the grocer’s recent trading momentum.

Blackhurst has launched a new code on how Morrisons works with suppliers, which pledges that its buyers must ‘listen’, ‘show mutual respect’ and ‘act with honesty and integrity’, with ‘everything confirmed in writing and forward-looking’.

The grocer has also promised to ‘pay on time and work hard to resolve disputes quickly’.

Blackhurst has worked to simplify Morrisons’ commercial income and, through his activities improving supplier relationships, has helped the grocer to focus more on everyday low prices rather than constant promotions.

The strategy seems to be working as Morrisons’ profits rose for the first time in five years.

82. Andrew Moore

  • Chief merchandising officer, Asda
  • Last year: 70

While Darren Blackhurst is boosting supplier relations at Morrisons, at Asda Andrew Moore may well have tarnished some by imposing harsher payment terms on its clothing suppliers.

In a letter sent earlier this year signed by chief merchandising officer Moore, suppliers were warned that they will now have to wait 50% longer to receive payment from the grocer.

Moore, who made his name at Asda’s clothing brand George, is of course under pressure to revive the ailing retailer. Asda has suffered 11 consecutive quarters of declining sales.

Now also responsible for food, he must reclaim the magic he once conjured at George to help newish Asda boss Sean Clarke stop the rot.

83. Peter Macnab

  • Managing director, AS Watson UK

Everything is looking rosy at Superdrug owner AS Watson’s UK business under the stewardship of Peter Macnab.

While rival Boots may be having a torrid time in the UK, Superdrug’s performance is soaring.

Pre-tax profits swelled 62% to £56.8m in its last reported financial year, while like-for-likes jumped 6.6%. It also reported a bumper Christmas where like-for-likes rose 7.2%.

In-store services, such as eyebrow-shaping and nail treatments, gave shoppers another reason to come into store and have propelled growth.

Macnab is a health and beauty lifer. He was part of the original Savers management team when AS Watson acquired the business in 2000.

After a short absence, he rejoined Savers as commercial director in 2007 and was subsequently promoted to managing director of the value beauty chain in 2011, when he led the turnaround of the business.

He took the helm of AS Watson’s UK businesses – Superdrug and Savers – three years ago and has the business sitting pretty in the competitive beauty sector.

84. Jill McDonald

  • Outgoing chief executive, Halfords
  • Last year: 90

Jill McDonald provided one of the biggest shocks in retail this year when it was revealed last month that she was leaving her post at Halfords to lead M&S’s long-struggling clothing division.

McDonald, who starts at M&S in October, had only led Halfords for 18 months and was just getting her teeth stuck into her transformation plan for the cycle and motoring retailer.

Add to that her lack of fashion experience and McDonald appears a curveball appointment.

However, she is understood to have a relentless focus on the customer, which could prove invaluable as M&S battles to keep its shoppers happy and win back the custom it has lost in recent years.

If McDonald can succeed where many have failed before her at M&S, she will go down in retail folklore and shoot up the Retail Week Power List.

85. John Browett

  • Chief executive, Dunelm
  • Last year: 74

John Browett plummets down the list after a difficult year at Dunelm.

The retailer’s pre-tax profits slumped 26% at its interim results, which Browett blamed on a softening of the market.

The share price has spiralled since it revealed its financials. However, Browett insists the retailer is geared up for long-term growth.

Thinking of the future, Browett snapped up online homewares group Worldstores – owner of Kiddicare – for £8.5m late last year.

The acquisition has more than doubled Dunelm’s online business and should provide an opportunity to accelerate its own multichannel offer.

86. Helen Weir

  • Chief finance officer, Marks & Spencer
  • Last year: 83

Marks & Spencer’s trading struggles show no sign of easing. However, Helen Weir is carefully managing the retailer’s balance sheet with an iron grip on spending.

Weir slips down the list as new arrivals at M&S – strategy director Melanie Smith and incoming clothing boss Jill McDonald – have led her to relinquish responsibilities, including strategy implementation and clothing, home and beauty supply chain, and logistics.

Weir has proven to be a key lieutenant to M&S boss Steve Rowe and will be just as pivotal in the year ahead when the crack team hired to turn around the retail juggernaut is in place.

However, there are some non-M&S-related issues that may prove distracting.

Weir, who was formerly group finance director at Lloyds Bank, is set to take to the witness box in the autumn when the lender goes to court in a £400m legal battle with shareholders over its ill-fated rescue of HBOS.

87. Tom Morris

  • Founder, Home Bargains

Publicity-shy Tom Morris has built Home Bargains into a value retail powerhouse.

He founded the business with a bank loan at the age of 21 and began with takings of only £85 a week. Today, Home Bargains turns over almost £1.5bn annually and is one of the country’s largest privately owned retailers.

Morris’s success is dependent upon focused, sharp buying and keen cost control. About 30% of the assortment is made up of end-of-lines, distressed product and similar, which give its stores an Aladdin’s cave appeal.

Morris’s brother Joe puts its success down to his brother’s eye for a great product. He has said he “has a real sense of smell for the retail business”.

He continues: “He knows what is going on. The key is good buying. He has an incredible reputation for it. If you get the buying right, you can make money even if the stores are not perfect.”

88. Ben Lewis

  • Chief executive, River Island
  • Last year: 85

It was not a vintage year for River Island, which posted flat profits and sales in what boss Ben Lewis said was “a challenging environment”.

However, with high street rivals such as New Look, Primark and Warehouse all struggling, perhaps flat is not a bad place to be.

Lewis – the nephew of River Island founder Bernard Lewis – has made tech investments his number-one priority in order to serve its digital-savvy customer.

The retailer has opened a tech hub in Shoreditch and been a pioneer on social network Snapchat.

This move has spearheaded multichannel growth at River Island and should put it in good stead to prosper with the millennials it targets.

89. Wilf Walsh

  • Chief executive, Carpetright
  • Last year: 88

Horse-racing fanatic Wilf Walsh has certainly had his fair share of hurdles at Carpetright over the past year.

Waning consumer demand, currency fluctuation and growing competition made for a challenging first half in which profits plunged 42% to £4.1m.

Since then, sales have returned to growth as Walsh, a former director at HMV, has accelerated its store revamp programme.

The going may be soft right now, but Walsh insists Carpetright is still on track and will gallop ahead of rivals going forward.

90. Michael MacMillan

  • Group president, TK Maxx Europe

What a year it’s been for off-price retail giant TK Maxx.

Pre-tax profits surged 11% to £142.3m in its last year, while sales jumped from £2.2bn to £2.4bn.

The retailer, which launched in the UK in 1994, has been expanding aggressively. It now has more than 500 stores after opening 25 new outlets in its last reported year, with another 24 planned in 2017.

British-born Michael MacMillan has been leading the charge.

He has spent his working life at TK Maxx parent company TJX and took on his current role as European boss five years ago.

His experience is certainly paying off in the UK.

91. Helen Dickinson

  • Chief executive, BRC
  • Last year: 93

British Retail Consortium chief Helen Dickinson has had a busy year.

When she’s not lobbying the Government over business rates or getting the best deal for retail out of Brexit, she’s advising the industry on what skills it will need going forward.

Dickinson, who worked for accountancy firm KPMG before she took on the BRC role five years ago, has proven herself to be a passionate spokeswoman for retail and a safe pair of hands to look after the industry’s interests over the tumultuous next few years.

92. Majid Ishaq

  • Managing director, Rothschild
  • Last year: 86

If there’s a deal to be done in retail, it’s a safe bet Majid Ishaq is there to negotiate.

Dreams, Missguided and Hobbs are just some of the retailers Ishaq’s Rothschild is exploring options for.

Ishaq falls down the list simply because retail’s IPO rush – which Rothschild was leading – has died down. However, when it fires up again Ishaq is sure to prosper.

93. Angus Thirlwell

  • Chief executive, Hotel Chocolat
  • Last year: 96

It has been another tasty year for Hotel Chocolat, which has become the go-to destination for chocolate treats.

Pre-tax profits surged a tasty 38% in its latest half-year, which covered the all-important Christmas period.

Entrepreneurial Thirlwell – who has more than a touch of the Richard Branson about him – is constantly innovating.

He has Hotel Chocolat cafes, restaurants and even a hotel in Saint Lucia, and is now plotting ‘Chocolate Lock-Ins’ to give its most loyal customers tasting sessions outside of usual trading hours.

94. Bertrand Bodson

  • Chief digital and marketing officer, Sainsbury’s Argos

Bertrand Bodson has been pivotal in Argos’s journey to become a digital leader, which was a big reason why Sainsbury’s paid £1.3bn for the retailer last year.

Bodson, a former EMI executive, helped digitise the Argos business and replaced its famous little-blue-pen ordering system with iPads.

He also launched Argos’s Fast Track same-day delivery service, a move that turned its vast store estate – something analysts had long thought a millstone around its neck – into one of its greatest assets.

Bodson was named the UK’s chief digital officer of the year by the Chief Digital Officer Club earlier this year for his work on the transformation.

New owner Sainsbury’s clearly values Bodson, who added marketing to his remit not long after the grocer took over Argos.

95. Paul Coby

  • Chief information officer, John Lewis Partnership
  • Last year: 95

John Lewis’s long-serving chief information officer was given responsibility for IT across the entire Partnership last October – the first person to take on a group-wide CIO role.

John Lewis Partnership cut its bonus this year – despite rising profits – in order to invest, and IT, led by Coby, will be one of the main beneficiaries.

The Partnership’s investment in technology has already served it well and made it an omnichannel leader. With a £500m war chest at his disposal, let’s see what Coby can produce.

96. Rowan Gormley

  • Chief executive, Majestic Wine

When Majestic Wine bought Naked Wines in 2015, it was not just the brand’s online prowess that wowed it – it was also its founder, Rowan Gormley.

The South African entrepreneur was swiftly made chief executive of the whole group and set about rejuvenating Majestic.

It’s been a busy couple of years for Gormley. He has helped to improve Majestic’s staff morale, boosting pay and even experimenting with making its store employees into John Lewis-style partners.

He has also invested in making the business multichannel by launching click-and-collect and next-day delivery to store.

However, it has not all been plain sailing. Despite adding some sparkle to its sales – group revenue jumped 13.2% to £205.6m in its last half and total sales surged 15.3% over Christmas – Gormley has warned the City that it will miss profit expectations for the year to April.

Although this may leave a bitter taste for some investors, Gormley insists he can rectify these issues and bring some fizz back to Majestic.

97. Mike Shearwood

  • Chief executive, Clarks

Former Karen Millen boss Mike Shearwood re-emerged as chief executive of Clarks in September last year.

Shearwood has got straight to work to turn around the struggling footwear market leader.

He has radically slashed lead times for products, launched a new store format and initiated a review of its 550-strong store estate.

Unafraid to make tough decisions, Shearwood has also made redundancies at Clarks’s Somerset head office.

The results of these changes are yet to be seen, but it is clear that he means business.

98. James Daunt

  • Chief executive, Waterstones

When Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut bought HMV in 2011, one of his first acts was to appoint James Daunt – founder of much-loved indie book shop Daunt Books – as chief executive.

His faith in Daunt has been repaid. Waterstones is now on track to post its second consecutive year of profit.

Daunt has benefited from the revival in physical book sales and changing its product mix to focus less on low-margin academic books and more on specialised fiction.

Daunt, who is often vocal about the – in his own words – “slippery monster” that is Amazon, has emerged as the spokesperson of the book industry.

99. Simon Belsham

  • Chief executive,

Former Tesco online director Simon Belsham took over from co-founders Holly Tucker MBE and Sophie Cornish MBE two years ago, and it has been a seamless transition.

In its last financial year, sales jumped 19% to £158m and Belsham is investing to make sure that growth continues.

Belsham and Notonthehighstreet are pioneering the marketplace model, and shoppers are now demanding the personalised, thoughtful gift that it sells.

With £21m of new venture capital investment banked last year, Belsham plans to spend big to make sure the business benefits from the trend it has started.

100. Diana Hunter

  • Chief executive, Conviviality

Diana Hunter is building a booze store empire at Conviviality.

As well as Bargain Booze and Wine Rack, Conviviality has snapped up drink suppliers Bibendum and Matthew Clark.

Hunter, a former director at Waitrose, says its acquisition strategy had left the business “well positioned in its market with a resilient business model”.

The model that she has built is being emulated across retail – most notably by Tesco, which is vying to buy Booker, another business that operates as both supplier and franchise operator.


Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #RWPowerList

Rank Name Job title and company Last year Movement
1 Jeff Bezos Chief executive, Amazon 1 =
2 Seb James Chief executive, Dixons Carphone 2 =
3 Dave Lewis Chief executive, Tesco 5 ▲2
4 Mike Coupe Chief executive, Sainsbury’s 3 ▼1
5 Brexit New entry
6 Matthew Barnes UK chief executive, Aldi 12 ▲6
7 Paul Marchant Chief executive, Primark 9 ▲2
8 Sir Charlie Mayfield Chairman, John Lewis Partnership 7 ▼1
9 Alex Baldock Chief executive, Shop Direct 13 ▲4
10 Lord Wolfson Chief executive, Next 6 ▼4
11 David Potts Chief executive, Morrisons 16 ▲5
12 Peter Cowgill Executive chairman, JD Sports Fashion 18 ▲6
13 Véronique Laury Group chief executive, Kingfisher 39 ▲26
14 Nick Beighton Chief executive, Asos 28 ▲14
15 Steve Rowe Chief executive, Marks & Spencer 19 ▲4
16 John Rogers Chief executive, Sainsbury’s Argos 29 ▲13
17 Paula Nickolds Managing director, John Lewis New entry
18 Sean Clarke Chief executive, Asda 14 ▼4
19 Matt Davies UK chief executive, Tesco 22 ▲3
20 Steve Murrells Group chief executive, The Co-operative Group 65 ▲45
21 Tim Steiner Chief executive, Ocado 15 ▼6
22 Christian Härtnagel UK chief executive, Lidl New entry
23 Mike Ashley Founder and chief executive, Sports Direct 21 ▼2
24 Simon Arora Chief executive, B&M 24 =
25 Ray Kelvin Chief executive, Ted Baker 36 ▲11
26 Doug Gurr UK country manager, Amazon 35 ▲9
27 Gillian Drakeford UK country manager, Ikea 47 ▲20
28 Rob Collins Managing director, Waitrose 26 ▼2
29 Andy Bond Chief executive, Pepkor Europe 
49 ▲20
30 Sir Philip Green Founder, Arcadia 23 ▼7
31 Andy Higginson Chairman, Morrisons and N Brown 31 =
32 Sir Ian Cheshire Chairman, Debenhams 42 ▲10
33 Katie Bickerstaffe UK and Ireland chief executive, Dixons Carphone 41 ▲8
34 Theo Paphitis Chief executive, Theo Paphitis Retail Group 30 ▼4
35 Malcolm Walker Chief executive, Iceland 40 ▲5
36 John Roberts Founder and executive director, 27 ▼9
37 Christo Wiese Investor 17 ▼20
38 Philip Day Owner, Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group 62 ▲24
39 Federico Marchetti Chief executive, Yoox Net-a-Porter 48 ▲9
40 Angela Spindler Chief executive, N Brown 38 ▼2
41 Frank Field MP for Birkenhead New entry
42 Elizabeth Fagan UK managing director, Boots 45 ▲3
43 Anders Kristiansen Chief executive, New Look 34 ▼9
44 Business rates New entry
45 Matt Brittin EMEA president, Google New entry
46 Jacqueline Gold Chief executive, Ann Summers 46 =
47 John Allan Chairman, Tesco 43 ▼4
48 Carol Kane and Mahmud Kamani Joint chief executives, Boohoo 89 ▲41
49 Ian Filby Chief executive, DFS 53 ▲4
50 Lord Rose Chairman, Ocado and Fat Face 50 =
51 Richard Pennycook Chairman, Fenwick and The Hut Group 8 ▼43
52 Angela Ahrendts Senior vice-president, Apple Retail 32 ▼20
53 Andrew Harrison Deputy chief executive, Dixons Carphone, and non-executive director, Ocado 54 ▲1
54 Iñigo de Llano UK and Ireland managing director, Inditex 59 ▲5
55 Michael Ward Managing director, Harrods 55 =
56 Euan Sutherland Chief executive, SuperGroup 64 ▲8
57 Steve Clarke Chief executive, WHSmith 58 ▲1
58 Carlos Duarte UK and Ireland country manager, H&M 51 ▼7
59 Paul McGowan Chairman, HMV, and executive chairman, Hilco 52 ▼7
60 Paul Kelly Group managing director, Selfridges 60 =
61 The weather 44 ▼17
62 Nitin Passi Chief executive, Missguided New entry
63 Ian Kellett Chief executive, Pets at Home 61 ▼2
64 Steve Caunce Chief executive, New entry
65 Peter Davis UK and Ireland managing director, Bunnings 73 ▲8
66 David Tyler Chairman, Sainsbury’s 57 ▼9
67 Ian Grabiner Chief executive, Arcadia 56 ▼11
68 Sergio Bucher Chief executive, Debenhams 99 ▲31
69 Matthew Moulding Chief executive, The Hut Group 75 ▲6
70 Ajay Kavan Vice-president, Amazon Fresh 98 ▲28
71 The administrators New entry
72 Andrew Livingston Chief executive, Screwfix 82 ▲10
73 José Neves Chief executive, Farfetch New entry
74 Chris Dawson Founder, The Range New entry
75 Roger Burnley Deputy chief executive, Asda 68 ▼7
76 Karen Hubbard Chief executive, Card Factory New entry
77 Mike Logue Chief executive, Dreams New entry
78 Mark Newton-Jones Chief executive, Mothercare 76 ▼2
79 Stacey Cartwright Chief executive, Harvey Nichols 72 ▼7
80 Simon King Chief executive, Wickes 79 ▼1
81 Darren Blackhurst Group commercial director, Morrisons 80 ▼1
82 Andrew Moore Chief merchandising officer, Asda 70 ▼12
83 Peter Macnab Managing director, AS Watson UK New entry
84 Jill McDonald Outgoing chief executive, Halfords 90 ▲6
85 John Browett Chief executive, Dunelm 74 ▼11
86 Helen Weir Chief finance officer, Marks & Spencer 83 ▼3
87 Tom Morris Founder, Home Bargains New entry
88 Ben Lewis Chief executive, River Island 85 ▼3
89 Wilf Walsh Chief executive, Carpetright 88 ▼1
90 Michael MacMillan Group president, TK Maxx Europe New entry
91 Helen Dickinson Chief executive, BRC 93 ▲2
92 Majid Ishaq Managing director, Rothschild 86 ▼6
93 Angus Thirlwell Chief executive, Hotel Chocolat 96 ▲3
94 Bertrand Bodson Chief digital and marketing officer, Sainsbury’s Argos New entry
95 Paul Coby Chief information officer, John Lewis 95 =
96 Rowan Gormley Chief executive, Majestic Wine New entry
97 Mike Shearwood Chief executive, Clarks Re-entry
98 James Daunt Chief executive, Waterstones New entry
99 Simon Belsham Chief executive, New entry
100 Diana Hunter Chief executive, Conviviality New entry


The Retail Week Power List’s partners – Brightcove, eCommera and InterSystems – comment on the key trends shaping retail today.

Mark Blair, vice-president EMEA, Brightcove

The retail industry is continuing to be disrupted by fast-moving changes in consumer behaviour.

In the 12 months since the last Power List there have been enormous shifts, particularly in digital behaviours, with consumers demanding increasingly high-quality experiences from brands.

As a vendor at the heart of one of these trends – the shift to a video-first world – Brightcove would like to congratulate all those recognised for their achievements.

The executives credited are those who understand the fundamental need to be both creative and agile to satisfy these growing consumer demands while future-proofing their respective businesses.

"These executives understand the need to be creative and agile to satisfy consumer demands"
Mark Blair, Brightcove

At Brightcove, we believe online video is the world’s most effective communication medium for learning, persuasion, entertainment and commerce.

Our retail clients see video not as a cost, but as a more effective way to create authentic, effective experiences that drive revenue, customer visibility and loyalty, and internal alignment.

As a result, they are integrating video as a mainstream communication medium into their core marketing strategies and technology infrastructures.

We are proud to sponsor this year’s Power List and delighted to see a number of our clients acknowledged for their forward-thinking, innovative approaches to the customer experience.

Alex Hamilton, head of insight, eCommera, Linked by Isobar

Congratulations to everyone recognised on this year’s Power List.

We applaud your vision and temperament at a time when conditions across the sector are becoming increasingly challenging and the future path of our industry is shrouded in uncertainty.

Retail has always been a resilient sector, able to respond to change and weather economic storms. However, the rise of new digital technologies, combined with increasing consumer expectations and a challenging economic climate, is putting this resilience to the test.

Breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and robotics, as well as advances in cloud technology, are raising questions that retailers are either struggling to answer, or can’t answer fast enough to meet the expectations of their customer.

For most, the pace of change is daunting.

"Many of the leaders who feature on the Power List are responding to today’s technological challenges"
Alex Hamilton, eCommera

Many of the leaders who feature on the Power List 2017 are at the forefront of responding to today’s technological challenges – by investing, by reinventing operating models and by hiring people with the right skillset to take the business forward.

At eCommera, the commerce arm of Dentsu Aegis Network, we help brands and retailers to face today’s digital challenges and turn retail visions into reality.

We combine the power of storytelling with the creative use of technology, creating experiences that engage and better serve the customer, as well as delivering measurable results.

Mark Palmer, UK and Ireland country manager, InterSystems

To cope with changing times, strong leaders need to display vision, confidence and decisiveness.

Members of this year’s Power List have these skills in abundance and will recognise that sustaining such strong leadership requires tenacity and clarity of thought.

Organisations look to their leaders to rise to the big challenges facing retail today. This means harnessing a 360-degree view of the business and the customer, and delivering the best customer experiences across multiple channels.

Using the right data at the right time is essential for leaders to maintain their advantage.

"Using the right data at the right time is essential for leaders to maintain their advantage"
Mark Palmer, InterSystems

It drives vision, by providing high-volume transactional analytics for real-time customer insight. It builds confidence, by ensuring a reliable and secure retail experience across online and offline channels. And it empowers data-driven decision-making at the front line of retail to enhance customer loyalty and business growth.

From working across the retail, finance and public sectors, InterSystems sees time and again that today’s most innovative leaders exploit data as the foundation for competitive advantage.

Greater business agility through using the power of data is vital in these turbulent times.

The Power List 2017

The Retail Week Power List 2017 reveals the 100 most influential people in retail

Written by Gemma Goldfingle

Produced by Alban BizetRebecca DyerEmily Kearns and Nathan May

In partnership with BrightcoveeCommera and InterSystems

Retail Week Guides brought to you by RWRC

Company number 2883992 (England & Wales)
Registered address: Broadfield Park, Crawley, RH11 9RT

Terms and Conditions
Privacy and Cookies Policy