Since Will Hobhouse took the helm as chairman last year, Heal’s has appointed key industry figures to oversee the development of some of the brand’s core departments.
Michelle Alger has been appointed head of home with responsibility for all non-furniture products, including the new Heal’s bath and home fragrance area; Pia Benham has been appointed head of fabric and design; while Carmel Allen returns to the communications team as brand champion.
Former buying manager for Liberty Home and Gifts, Alger brings with her a wealth of experience in the luxury sector, working with major brands including Paul Smith and Ralph Lauren.
In her time at Liberty, Alger took on additional roles; notably she gave guest lectures to design students and curated exhibitions, including one with David Nicholls titled ‘Britain can (still) make it’. The show focused on British design and manufacture at a time when factories were struggling in the downturn. This was a significant project for Alger who, like Heal’s, is a firm supporter of local design talent.
“I am proud to be the new head of home at Heal’s, and excited about the rapid pace at which the brand is changing and developing,” she said. “From September expect to see a very different Heal’s, a well-curated selection of beautiful things for the home.”
As the new head of fabric and design, Benham plans to turn the Heal’s Tottenham Court Road flagship store into a hub of inspiration for both customers and trade, catering for an extensive appetite of fabric and interior design requirements.
Previous roles called for Benham to work closely with numerous designers and interiors retailers, and she has spent time building creative and commercial partnerships with, and for, the likes of BIDA, Llewellyn Bowen Limited and MyDeco.
“We are on the cusp of great change and as the new head of fabric and design I am genuinely inspired by things to come. A real focus for us is forging relationships with like minded and passionate individuals, designers and businesses so we can offer a range which is genuinely exceptional.”
Rejoining Heal’s as the new brand champion, Carmel brings with her a wealth of experience – she is a skilled editor, marketing and creative director who has successfully helped to build brands, in both retail and the publishing industry.
Having started her career in publishing, working on key titles from Livingetc, Financial Times and Vogue, Allen moved into retail communications. She headed up the marketing department at Heal’s before taking up a role as director of creative & marketing at The Conran Shop, where she worked closely with Sir Terence Conran. More recently, Allen has been applying her eye for design, along with her editorial skills, at the highly respected, independently owned international trend forecaster GDR Creative Intelligence.
“This is an exciting time at Heal’s. We have a real vision for the future and our product, our brand, our offer – is all evolving. We have great expectations for the future.”