Previous speaker profiles


Cormac Tobin - MD - Celesio UK

During early 2013 Cormac Tobin was appointed as managing director at Celesio UK, one of the nation’s largest providers of healthcare services, after successfully leading the Celesio Group’s business in Ireland for six years. Cormac is also on the Leadership Team for Celesio’s International parent company Celesio AG, which also includes holding regional responsibility for LloydsPharmacy Ireland.

Through its six main businesses – LloydsPharmacy (with 1,600 pharmacies UK-wide), AAH Pharmaceuticals, Evolution Homecare, Wilkinsons Healthcare, LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor and Betterlife – Celesio UK has a significant presence across the secondary, primary and homecare sectors. LloydsPharmacy also has a substantial market share within the Irish pharmacy sector.

Cormac began his career with the Irish retailer Superquinn at just 13 years of age, but quickly progressed through the company holding several management roles until being promoted to Board Member in 2002.

In 2005, Superquinn was acquired by Select Retail Holdings where Cormac was appointed Development & Strategic Director.

In 2006, Cormac became Managing Director of DocMorris/Unicarepharmacy and successfully led the strategic development of the business resulting in a growth of 50% in sales over six years as well as several awards for creative and innovative retail store initiatives.

DocMorris/Unicarepharmacy had also won prestigious awards for Best Employer and Best Workplace under Cormac’s direction: in 2010 the company was selected to represent Ireland in the European Business Awards for best employer. 

Catriona Marshall - Chief Executive - Hobbycraft

Catriona Marshall is the Chief Executive of specialist retailer Hobbycraft, which has over 80 stores and a fast growing on-line business in arts and crafts. Prior to joining Hobbycraft in 2011, Catriona was the Trading & Marketing Director of pet food and accessories retailer Pets at Home, where she was responsible for its brand and in-store customer proposition development as well as its multi-channel presence. She joined Pets at Home in 2003 from Wal-Mart, where she was Private Label Director for Wal-Mart Europe and had worked previously for Kraft and Mars Confectionery.

"I'm very much looking forward to speaking at the Academy School this summer. It will be a pleasure and a privilege to share time and experience with our future retail leaders. Retail is such a rich and dynamic environment to build a career that I'm looking forward to sharing my experiences and insights and hopefully motivating and inspiring others to contribute to business and society through this sector.

We make a material contribution to the economy from GDP to employment and as such have a responsibility to stimulate growth and manage our businesses responsibly. We also have the enjoyment of a fast-paced, transforming sector that thrives on competition and change."

George MacDonald - Executive Editor - Retail Week

George MacDonald is the Executive Editor of Retail Week.

He has worked on the title since 1998, originally starting as a reporter and covered sectors ranging from food to department stores

He is in day-to-day charge of Retail Week's editorial content online and in print. He writes a weekly column and blogs.

George has interviewed many of the biggest names in retail and is often asked to comment in the wider media on the latest industry developments

Martijn Bertisen - Senior Industry Head, Retail - Google UK

Martijn is responsible for leading Google’s eCommerce initiatives and strategies across a large portfolio of retail clients. This involves the management of a sales and account management team that shares the benefits of Google advertising solutions and other products directly with senior level executives.

Over the last six years Martijn has worked with and developed a deep understanding of some of the world’s leading retail businesses and has helped them get the most out of the web. 

Martijn says:

"Digital has been disruptive to the retail industry over the last two decades, but it has also created unbelievable opportunities for retailers. Those that were early adopters have seen much faster growth than those not adopting the web. With the emergence of mobile and the increasingly global nature of ecommerce the fast and agile will continue to win."

Paul Anderson-Walsh - Director - Simply L&D

Paul is the former CEO of The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust. He began his career in retail as the manager of a boutique in Chelsea where he became the main buyer. In the mid-80s Paul entered the financial services industry with the merchant bank Schroders. Paul subsequently established himself as an independent Management Consultant specialising in leadership accession, managing change, brand development and bid writing.

Paul has extensive experience in facilitating high-level strategic change workshops, which include instructor-led training sessions. Over the past 15 years, he has worked with a wide variety of companies and individuals and is  highly regarded for his ability to help management teams work together.

Tim Danaher - Partner - Brunswick Group (and former Editor of Retail Week)


Steve Connell - Owner - Inspire

Corporate and Consumer markets as well as the Retail, Financial Services, Leisure, Hotels and Hospitality verticals. Steve is the Programme Director for the Oxford Summer School Academy. A delegate in 1994, Steve served as a Group Director for 8 years and Vice Chairman for two before becoming Summer School Chairman for 4 years between 2005 and 2008. In 2003 Steve established inspire, a sales, marketing and management development company. Steve has a degree in marketing and a strong sales, service and marketing background. He has significant experience of the

Through inspire, Steve offers a range of services including consulting on business strategy, sales and marketing, training and development, coaching, facilitation and lecturing, both in the UK and overseas. He is a strategic thinker and an enthusiastic and energetic leader as well as a fluent, articulate, persuasive and inspirational communicator. With highly developed coaching and motivational skills Steve is a proven presenter with experience of conference speaking, after dinner speaking, chairing and presenting at industry events and customer board presentations. Steve is also an author with his first book, Personal Brand Essence published in May 2009 and another on the way.

David Meckin - Managing Director - Insight Financial Consulting

David Meckin has over twenty-five years’ commercial experience, which encompasses several senior management positions, including that of finance director of a multinational business. His work has involved him in the financial management of companies in the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East and North America. He regularly delivers management workshops and presents at conferences to managers from all over the world.

In 1988 he set up Insight Financial Consulting to provide consulting solutions and tailored in-house training programmes, aimed at enhancing commercial performance. Over the years he has developed a reputation for demystifying what is often perceived as a complex topic, making the world of finance interesting, easy to understand and even fun!


Jeremy Seigal - CEO - White Stuff

Jeremy is Chief Executive of White Stuff Limited, having taken up this role early in 2013; he is also a Trustee of the White Stuff Foundation. Additionally, he is a retail advisor to ScotMid Co-operative.

From 2008 to 2012 Jeremy was CEO at AS Watson UK Ltd, part of Hong Kong based Hutchison Whampoa, where he led Superdrug Stores, Savers and The Perfume Shop.

In the early 1990’s he co-founded The Perfume Shop, which was sold to AS Watson in 2005, and he continued as Managing Director until 2008. Jeremy started his retail career with The Burton Group at Top Shop and Debenhams after beginning at HM Treasury and The Boston Consulting Group.

Jeremy graduated in Engineering Science & Economics at Christ Church Oxford and has an MBA from The Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, California where he was a Fulbright and an Arjay Millar Scholar.

Jeremy Says:

“I am excited to be part of the fantastic Oxford Summer School programme in 2014. Developing great talent is essential in our industry, and I am honored to be able to speak to so many individuals who will make such an impact in the future.”

Vanessa Gold - Managing Director - Ann Summers

Vanessa is Managing Director of Ann Summers and Knickerbox, one of the UK’s most well known high street retailers offering customers a unique shopping experience. Ann Summers is one of the UK’s most successful family run businesses with 145 retail stores, a thriving e-commerce site and over 7,000 party planners.

Since her appointment in June 2011 as MD, Vanessa has focussed on the completion of the new brand delivery including the award winning new concept store at the Westfield Stratford City Shopping Mall, improving infrastructure and starting the business on its journey to becoming a true multi-channel retailer.

Vanessa continues to oversee the new brand implementation and works closely with CEO Jacqueline Gold to develop new opportunities and partnerships for the business.

Vanessa Says:

“I can't wait to to be a part of the OSS programme which really understands the need to develop great talent in the industry. Supporting our colleagues is important when working in an ever evolving environment such as retail.”

Past speakers also include:

  • Justin King - CEO - Sainsburys
  • Mark Price - MD - Waitrose
  • Laura Wade-Gery - Executive Director, Multi-channel E-commerce - Marks & Spencer
  • Beverley Aspinall - Managing Director, Fortnum & Mason PLC
  • Marco Capello - Chairman, Liberty
  • Stephen Robertson - Director General, British Retail Consortium
  • Tony Wheeler - Managing Director, Peter Jones, John Lewis Partnership
  • Joseph Wan - Chief Executive, Harvey Nichols
  • Susan Aubrey-Cound - Director of Multi Channel Development, Marks & Spencer
  • Mark Newton-Jones - Group Chief Executive, Shop Direct Group
  • Marigay McKee - Director of Fashion & Beauty, Harrods
  • Nick Robertson - Chief Executive, ASOS

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