Hundreds of senior figures from retail brands gathered at The Langham Hotel in London last week to applaud 12 inspiring women who have been appointed the 2016 Worldpay everywoman in Retail Ambassadors. The programme recognises the achievements of women excelling at various stages of their retail careers – from store managers and sales leaders to founders. Supported by Worldpay and other forward thinking organisations including QVC, Specsaver, SSE and Tesco, the initiative is committed to showcasing the diverse career options available whilst shining a light on the sector’s role models.
The UK’s retail sector contributes £339bn to the economy and employs some 2.8 million people. Yet while 60% of retail employees in the UK are women, they make up just 20% of retail executive teams and a mere 10% of retail executive boards. With women estimated to make over 80% of all consumer-purchasing decisions, never before have they been considered more pivotal to the success of the sector as they are today.
Of the 2016 Ambassadors one woman was selected to be the 2016 Retail Ambassador of the Year. Leigh Nelson, retail director of Specsavers Newtownards, was singled out by the judges for commitment to her 20 team members who she actively mentors and encourages to progress in their career by pursuing life-long qualifications. Alongside this, her outstanding commercial performance in-store, resulting in a £1.2m turnover and a 4% increase in sales, further proved her commitment to what she calls a career and not just a job.
The 2016 Worldpay everywoman in Retail Ambassadors are:
- Jacqui Chin, chief of staff, Amazon UK, based in London
- Zoe Davies, Avon independent executive sales leader, Avon, based in Ilkeston
- Phoebe Gormley, founder, Gormley & Gamble, based in London
- Rukia Hussain, fresh replenishment & production manager, Asda, based in Manchester
- Kathryn Jaquet, managing director, RB Equestrian, based in Milton Keynes
- Gemma Mason, head of customer experience, Superdrug Stores, based in London
- Sheila McCrae, regional director, Gap, based in Glasgow
- Laura Myatt, branch manager, Hobbs, based in London
- Leigh Nelson, retail director, Specsavers Newtownards, based in Newtownards
- Catherine Smith, store manager, Argos, based in Accrington
- Ann Steer, marketing & international director, JD Williams, based in Manchester
- Sarah Wakefield, food sustainability manager, Co-op, based in Manchester
Maxine Benson MBE, co-founder of everywoman, comments: “Our 12 ambassadors exude confidence, enthusiasm, energy and ambition – the key attributes that have helped them achieve their status as sector role models. Our judges were struck by their willingness to take risks and their determination to see their ideas realised. We applaud their success and we now task them with sharing their stories, inspiring more women to experience the career opportunities and rewards offered by the retail sector.”
Jo Baker, chief finance officer Worldpay UK commented: “The retail sector is the UK’s largest private sector employer, providing jobs for almost 3million people across the country – over half of whom are women. As a long-time supporter of everywoman, and partner to over 300,000 retailers across the UK, Worldpay are proud to be sponsoring this year’s Retail Ambassador Programme. ThisProgramme provides a national platform to champion the women who are pushing this industry forward and celebrates their successes. The stories we have heard tonight have been inspirational and all of the winners are truly exceptional. I hope their achievements will serve to encourage and inspire more women to pursue and further their careers in this dynamic and exciting sector.”