The most influential retail and fashion honchos that call the shots in the capital
Angela Ahrendts, chief executive, Burberry
Ahrendts rescued Burberry from the brink of chav-fuelled disaster, known in fashion circles as the “Danniella Westbrook moment” after the former EastEnders actress was pictured head to toe in Burberry. Since then, Ahrendts has successfully transformed the 154-year old brand. The former president of Donna Karan, has empowered Burberry’s chief creative officer Christopher Bailey to take the brand to the next generation of consumers. While rival luxury brands have been slow to embrace digital she set the gold standard with TheArtofTheTrench.com – a social media site where users can post pictures of themselves or friends wearing a Burberry trench coat. Having managed to take the brand into the digital age without compromising its integrity she has become one of the most admired figures in retail.
Sarah Burton, creative director Alexander McQueen
The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, delivered the capital a beautiful fashion moment in April when she unveiled her wedding dress, created by Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton. London’s “fash-pack” could not contain their excitement as headlines confirmed “the bride wore McQueen”. It was a fashion triumph for designer Burton, who was Alexander McQueen’s right hand woman from 1997 up until his death in February 2011. The creation of the dress is already fashion legend: needle workers on the dress washed their hands every 30 minutes to keep it pristine while the needles were renewed every three hours. As the designer who secured the most coveted fashion commission of the decade, Burton has successfully secured her place among the capital’s fashion royalty.
Michael Gutman, managing director, UK & Europe, Westfield
The Australian has reason to celebrate as Westfield Stratford City opens. While some retailers would have baulked at launching London’s largest shopping mall amid the worst economic slump in decades, Gutman defined what it means to be bullish. Westfield Stratford City is a phenomenal retail space and the £1.45bn complex houses more than 300 shops, 70 restaurants, a 14-screen cinema, three hotels, a bowling alley and the UK’s largest casino. Gutman, who moved to the UK in 2003, lives eats and breathes retail. It is apt therefore that he lives in Marylebone, near Oxford Street, where he can keep a close eye on his customers.
Emma Hill, creative director, Mulberry
Economic uncertainty may hang in the air, but thanks to Emma Hill, London’s women are showing no signs of giving up their luxury goods. In the last financial year, profits jumped 358 per cent and like-for-like sales were up 43 per cent at fashion brand Mulberry. As creative director, Hill has made the brand relevant to young consumers without alienating its existing consumers. She is also creator of the much lusted-after Alexa bag. Hill, who is 41, earned her fashion stripes in New York, working at Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs and Gap. It is therefore apt she is now taking the Bond Street brand to New York, launching its first flagship store last month.
Craig Inglis, director of marketing, John Lewis
You may not have heard of him but he had the nation crying into its tea cups with the “Always a woman” advertisement. Inglis has shown that a UK favourite can thrive in the digital age.He was named as The Marketing Society’s 2011 marketer of the year and he has had a vital contribution to John Lewis’ success since being promoted to director of marketing in February 2010. Inglis has added muscle and experience to a team that has been responsible for some of the best (and most lauded) advertising of the past year. But while PR savvy Inglis’s relaunch of the Never Knowingly Undersold advert garnered headlines, what John Lewis’ customers will not have witnessed is one of the UK’s most talented business people being quietly effective.
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Nick Lansley, head of research and development, Tesco
You would have to be a hermit not to have heard of Tesco, the UK’s biggest retailer, but the man who is bringing virtual and mobile shopping to London enjoys a lower profile, despite writing his own blog. Lansley has been at Tesco since 1987, where, in his own words, he was given “steeper and steeper challenges” until he was asked in 1995 to “see what I could do with this thing called the internet”. Tesco’s mobile apps have generated more than 2m downloads across a range of devices to date, and searches via the Tesco Finder app currently peak at 10 a second. The virtual store is coming and Lansley’s star is on the ascent.
Lyndon Lea, founder, Lion Capital
The Lancashire hairdresser’s son turned equity king, Lyndon Lea, is key player on the London retail scene. Earlier this summer, his Lion Capital, with its US investment partner Goode, bought fashion chain All Saints for £105m. Lea, known as “the Lion King” made his name with his initial mergers and acquisition job at Goldman Sachs in New York; then he moved to Schroders in London; Glenisla, the European affiliate of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts; and at Hicks, Muse where he co-founded the European operations in 1998. He split off the European unit as Lion Capital in January 2005 and since then it has made successful exits from its ownership of French jam group Materne and shoemaker Jimmy Choo, with returns more than double its investments.
Lindsay Nuttall, head of strategy and communications, Asos
As global head of strategy and communications at online fashion giant Asos, Nuttall is planning from its Camden headquarters to take the brand to a new generation of digital consumers. The former MySpace, Channel 4 and BBC marketer is known for her entrepreneurial spirit and creative flair. Under her direction, Asos is leading the way when it comes to interactive video and shopping experiences, which many in the industry believe will be the future of retail
Alannah Weston, creative director, Selfridges
Retail commentators may continue to lament the decline of the UK’s high streets, but Selfridges’ creative director continues to ensure the store is a highlight of London’s effervescent Oxford Street. Known for her personal art collection, Weston treats the store as a piece of art in its own right and her ethos of “shopping as theatre” has raised the bar when it comes to in-store experiences. This year she hit the headlines with the launch of Project Ocean, a far reaching sustainable fishing initiative that saw Selfridges’ famous windows given over to the cause. Her father may own the store, but call Alannah Weston an heiress at your peril.
Sasha Wilkins, fashion blogger, Liberty London Girl (LLG)
Fashion blogger Sasha Wilkins is part of a new breed of writers who don’t want to edit magazines, because they have built something more powerful – their own brands. Over the past year, Wilkins has moved from the front row to fronting advertising campaigns for brands such as Hunter. Products that appear on LLG sell out in a matter of hours and as a celebrity spokeswoman with her won distribution channel she is hot property.