Previous Speaker Profiles


Fiona Roberts AssetAltText

Owner Cox Roberts Consulting

Cox Roberts Consulting was set up in 2016 by Fiona Roberts.

Fiona was until recently Human Resources Director at Volkswagen UK, a role she had held since May 2010. Fiona Roberts has experience across a broad range of commercial business sectors including Automotive, Retail, Services and Manufacturing. Having started her career in Retail Operations she transitioned to Human Resources after completing an MA in HR Management. She has subsequently built a reputation as an exceptional HR professional, able to demonstrate significant business contributions in Strategy development; Operational HR; International talent management; Employee Engagement and Organisational Development.

On leaving Volkswagen after 6 very successful years Fiona has decided to use her skills and experience to support businesses achieve the very best from their people and achieve their business goals and ambitions.

Fiona was HR Director of the Year at the Personnel Today Awards 2014, the same year that Volkswagen Group UK was awarded Top Employer status by the Top Employers Institute for its commitment to developing talent and offering a first-class working environment with high quality training and development opportunities across its five brands. Fiona’s leadership has led to the business being accredited as a Top Employer and achieving “Great Place to Work” status since 2012.

Fiona is a strong business leader who has significant experience at Board level. Her strengths are in leading a commercial HR team and delivering business change.  She has experience across a broad range of commercial business sectors including Automotive, Retail, Services and Manufacturing. Having started her career in Retail Operations she transitioned to Human Resources and subsequently has built a reputation as an exceptional HR professional.

Kate HardcastleAssetAltText

Owner Insight with Passion

Kate Hardcastle & media.  As seen and heard weekly on BBC, ITV, Sky, Channel 4 & as a guest writer for the Guardian & Virgin, Kate has also led the turnaround of British branded businesses, as the Founder of Insight with Passion Business transformation.  She has presented programmes for BBC on retail, and led the Channel 4 charge for Battlefront on Youth Unemployment.

Kat was made Downing Street Point of Light Winner on International Women's Day with her dedication to many vital campaigns and charities supporting women - an award that she adds to over 26 National & International awards.  She is the current Yorkshire Business Woman of the Year. 

She leads an add insight to projects in the UK and Internationally, and has been the keynote speaker at over 200 events including The Business Show, World Congress and Arabian Business Conference alongside Bill Clinton, Sting and many more.

Kate's business - Insight with Passion, donates an impressive 20% back to good causes which has been flagged as a case study by Downing Street.  Kate is also a proud ambassador for Women in Sport and many charities including Trustee of the Diana Awards and is founder of Positive Image Month and The Charity Dreamgirls.

Mark WrightAssetAltText

Managing Director Digital at Jack Wills

Mark Wright, has been the Managing Director for Digital at Jack Wills for 18months where he’s responsible for Global Ecommerce as well as CRM and Customer Services. During this time, in addition to Mark making necessary changes to the website, he has given real focus to the team and led digital transformation at Jack Wills, introducing new ways of working to put the customer and customer insight at the heart of decision-making.

His previous experience includes a wide range of roles at M&S including Head of UK Trading for M&, Store Operations and field positions as both Store and Regional Manager.  Mark sits on the Advisory Board for IMRG and continues to mentor a number of people in the retail industry.

Jack Wills, for more than 16 years, has brought British heritage-inspired wares of the highest quality to the wardrobes of a spirited and inspired youth, epitomising what it is to be British, irreverent and carefree. 


Anders Kristiansen, CEO of New Look

Led by Anders, New Look has enjoyed a phenomenal year with strong sales and continued expansion both in the UK and internationally. In addition the company has recently won the Drapers Awards 2015 for Fashion Retail Business of the Year (for £500m plus turnover companies).

Anders leads a business which trades from more than 800 stores. New Look’s expansion in China is well underway with more than 30 stores now open and the company has also launched its first four stand-alone menswear stores in the UK this year with more planned.

Prior to joining New Look in 2013, Anders was Vice Chief Executive of Bestseller Fashion Group in China where he helped establish more than 5500 stores. He has also held the roles of Senior Vice-President of Staples Inc. and Managing Director of both the Asia Pacific and Europe divisions of Lyreco, the office supplies group.

Anders will be speaking on the ‘Future of Retailing’ on the opening day of the Masters – 29th February 2016.

Shanker PatelAssetAltText, CEO of the Lords Group of Companies

The Lords Group of Companies, a family owned business established in 1985, is a highly diversified business involved in the retail, distribution and manufacturing of construction materials employing over 200 people. It’s principal trading arms are Lords Builders Merchants and Lords at Home based in West London. In addition to trading, Lords Group are heavily involved in residential and commercial real estate investment and development.

After graduating from the LSE in 1992, Shanker initially intended to fulfil his dream of becoming a lawyer and attended the College of Law in London and graduated as a lawyer. Since becoming the MD in 1997 the group’s turnover has grown forty fold to over £35million and the group has diversified from retailing into the various activities it is involved in today; Manufacturing, Distribution, Retail, Real Estate, Ecommerce and Care Homes.

Shanker heads all six group activities via a team of professionals who are jointly responsible for the success of the business. All business divisions have external managing directors who are responsible for day to day operations. Starting in the 1990’s recession has enabled Shanker to confidently manage the group during the current crisis. By the end of 2014, the group’s net assets have risen 200% since 2008, profitability by 300% and sales by 200% through the current down turn.

The business projections for 2014 indicate an organic rise in profits of 25% with sales increase of 25%. The Group has invested over £4m in its businesses to take advantage of current upturn. The aim of the business is to reach over £50m in sales within the next three years and over £75m over the next five years.


Charlie Mayfield - Chairman - John Lewis Partnership

Sir Charlie Mayfield became the John Lewis Partnership's fifth Chairman in March 2007. He joined the Partnership in 2000 as Head of Business Development, responsible for business strategy and development for both John Lewis and Waitrose.

Sir Charlie joined the Board as Development Director in 2001 and was responsible for developing the Partnership's online strategy. He became Managing Director of John Lewis in January 2005 prior to taking up his appointment as Chairman of the Partnership in March 2007.

Sir Charlie began his career as an officer in the army. He joined SmithKline Beecham in 1992 and became Marketing Manager for the Lucozade brand, before moving to McKinsey & Co in 1996. Charlie is the Government appointed Chair of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, President of the Employee Ownership Association, a Director of Central Surrey Health Trustee Limited and Deputy Chairman of the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

Chrissie Rucker MBE - Founder and Director - The White Company

Chrissie Rucker is founder and Director of the White Company. After leaving school at 16 she worked for a wedding dress designer and as a receptionist at Conde Nast, from where she moved into fashion journalism. She spotted a gap in the market for affordable, white-coloured home-accessories and launched The White Company as a mail-order business in 1994. In 2012, she was running 43 stores across the UK with a reported turnover of £120 million.

She was awarded an MBE in 2010, and won The Financial Times’ Private Businesswoman of the Year Award in 2012. Now with over 50 stores in the UK, The White Company has begun trading in the States with the launch of it's US website.


As ever we had a fantastic line up of guest speakers and expert advisors at last year's Masters including:

  • Sir Ian Cheshire - Group Chief Executive - Kingfisher plc (and Chairman of the British Retail Consortium)
  • Tom Joule - Founder - Joules
  • Alan Giles - Former CEO - Fat Face
  • Wendy Hallett MBE - Founder and Managing Director - Hallett Retail
  • Steve Finlan - Director of International Operations - Marks and Spencer 
  • Fernando Pina - Director of Retail EMEA - Asics
  • Graham Wynn - Assistant Director - British Retail Consortium 
  • Alan Hawkins - CEO - British Independent Retailers Association 
  • Christophe Cauvy - European Head of Digital and Innovation - JWT
  • Jonathan Reynolds - Academic Director - Oxford Institute of Retail Management
  • David Jeary - Analyst and Management Consultant 
  • Tony Lorenz - Strategy and Development Director - Endpoint
  • Andrew McClelland - Managing Director - IMRG
  • Olga Nazarkova - International eCommerce - Mothercare and Early Learning Centre
  • Amanda Poole - Retail Consultant
  • Alan Treadgold - Global Head of Retail Development - Cheil Worldwide
  • Tracey Hobbs - Retail Expert

Other previous speakers

  • Mike Clare - Founder of Dreams
  • Charlie Mayfield - Chairman, John Lewis Partnership
  • Phillip Newton - Founder of The Perfume Shop
  • Mark Newton-Jones - Chief Executive, Shop Direct Group
  • Theo Paphitis - Chairmain, Ryman Stationery
  • Mike Shearwood - Chief Executive, Aurora Fashions
  • Stephen Robertson, Director General, British Retail Consortium
  • Phil Wrigley - Executive Chairman, Habitat
  • Anthony Preston, Founder, Pets at Home
  • Rob Collins, Personnel Director, Waitrose
  • Michael Ward, Managing Director, Harrods

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