Hundreds of business figures gathered at Claridge’s Hotel in London to celebrate 12 incredible women working within retail who have been chosen as 2015 Specsavers everywoman in Retail Ambassadors, singled out for their outstanding career achievements and ability to inspire others. This programme is fronted by retail icon Dame Mary Perkins, co-founder of Specsavers, and supported by a number of forward-thinking organisations that are committed to showcasing the career opportunities retail offers women of all ages. Guests included senior figures from 35 retail brands who joined together to congratulate the Ambassadors and celebrate their achievements.
The world of retail is immense, and the UK is a global leader. Those considering retail as a career have numerous opportunities open to them, whether their passion is to work in fashion, grocery, sports or gifts, and with the growth of e-commerce there has never been a better time to join the sector. Yet more needs to be done to ensure equality at a senior level in retail – only 13 out of 100 on the Retail Week Power List 2015 were women. These phenomenally inspirational women unveiled have been chosen to help balance this inequality – by sharing their story with other women, showing them what a career in retail really looks like, and influencing them to understand that they too can achieve great things.
- The 2015 Specsavers everywoman in Retail Ambassadors are:
- Negar Bagherzadeh, senior manager Business Applications, Gap inc, from North London, chosen as the 2015 Retail Ambassador of the Year
- Gillian Baird, store manager, Asda, based in Birmingham
- Lorna Billinge, vice president of global QA and supply chain operations, QVC, from Liverpool
- Clare Blampied, managing director, Sacla UK, from Beaconsfield Suzanne Cooper, bakery manager, Greggs the Bakers, from Manchester
- Jill Flood, senior brand manager, Superdrug (A.S. Watson), from West Sussex
- Natasha Leith-Smith, founder & designer, Allumer Jewellery London, from Primrose Hill, London
- Laura Murden, category manager – Tom Tom Sports, Tom Tom, from Islington, London
- Emma Pacey, senior buying manager – Toys, Asda, from Leeds
- Sally Preston, founder and managing director, The Kids Food Company Ltd, from Amersham, Bucks
- Clare Standage, category manager – Cycle Accessories, Halfords, from Birmingham
- Helen Webb, director of HR, Food Retail, The Co-operative Food, from Ilkley, West Yorkshire
Maxine Benson, co-founder of everywoman, said: “All this year’s Ambassadors demonstrate the confidence, enthusiasm and ambition that a retail role model should possess. What struck the judging panel was how many of them have not only taken great risks but are willing to work so hard to see their ideas realised. Their energy and achievements are hugely inspirational for future generations considering their career options. They showcase retail to be the very exciting industry that it is. We congratulate all 12 of them.”
Dame Mary, founder of Specsavers, said: “The role of women in retail has never been more pivotal than it is today. Through their hard work and dedication, women in the industry have forged a path into some of the most influential roles in their sector, whether that’s on the shop floor or in the most senior positions, and the results speak for themselves. The 12 ambassadors chosen this year, serve as a shining example of what can be achieved, both to women working in the industry today and to future generations. We congratulate all 12 of them.”
Women are estimated to make over 80% of all consumer-purchasing decisions, and to ensure these customers’ needs and requirements are met, it is essential that retail organisations represent this demographic at a senior level. This is why the 2015 Specsavers everywoman in Retail Ambassador programme is supported by a number of businesses who are committed to championing diversity at all levels, including the British Retail Consortium, Kingfisher plc, Pentland Group plc, QVC, Worldpay UK, Santander, Asda, Salesforce, DFS and SSE.