27.03.19 Speaker Event – Helen Dickinson – CEO of the British Retail Consortium

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27 MAR 2019

Speaker Event – Helen Dickinson – CEO of the British Retail Consortium

by Devonshire House Network

Make UK Retailing great again!

We are delighted that Helen Dickinson, CEO of the British Retail Consortium, will be speaking at Devonshire House on 27.03.19.

We are also delighted that Christopher Nieper has accepted our invitation to join us in this discussion. Christopher Nieper is CEO of David Nieper, a leading Manufacturer and Retailer of quality womens’ clothing – instantly recognised in its market – and with strong – some would say contrarian views on the retail scene. Whilst Christopher’s focus is on his own sector in Fashion Retailing, he has forceful views on the broad sweep of retailing. Christopher knows what winning formulas are.  He also knows how to challenge orthodoxies.

Managing this important and highly topical and interactive discussion will be Cathy Kay, Director at Russam GMS Ltd, a much valued Partner of Devonshire House who will also be hosting us on this occasion. Our thanks to them.

Big changes are happening in Retail.  Here’s our idea about how we might structure this Conversation.  

  • About the BRC – role, stakeholders, etc
  • And about David Nieper
  • What is the current state of retailing in the UK? Is it simply about Transformation and Turnaround? How relevant are big personalities?
  • Can we identify/ isolate the specific issues – the ones that have identifiable answers –
  • …….. and those that don’t appear to …… cyclic ones, permanent-looking ones; socio-economic ones, tech ones; purely economic ones; Brexit-induced ones; property ones (what is happening to our high streets – is it only about rents and rates?)
  • What about “the customer experience” “fast fashion” “Made in England”?

…But all with the emphasis on informative, creative, progressive., innovative, collaborative ideas – or as many as possible between 6.30pm and 7.30pm – and within an interactive and participative setting. 

About the BRC

Retail is an exciting, diverse and dynamic industry undergoing major transformational change. The BRC is at the forefront – enhancing, assisting, informing, and shaping. Their broad range of stakeholders demonstrates how retailing touches almost every aspect of their culture.

The BRC leads the industry and works with their members to tell the story of retail, shape debates and influence issues and opportunities which will help make that positive difference. They care about the careers of people who work in our industry, the communities retail touches and competitiveness as a fundamental principle of the industry’s success – their 3 Cs.

“Get all the latest information about BRC hot topics and upcoming events by signing up to our newsletters today.  Sign up to our newsletters.  www.brc.org.uk.” is their message.

About Helen Dickinson OBE

Helen leads the team and sets the strategic direction of the BRC. She joined in January 2013 and has been working with retailers for over 25 years. She is also a judge of the Everywoman Retail Ambassadors Programme and was previously Chair of Working Chance, a charity helping women offenders find employment between 2012 and 2016. Helen was previously UK Head of Retail at KPMG, driving and developing the retail practice and leading relationships and audits for many clients. Helen was awarded the OBE in 2016 for Services to Retail.

About David Nieper

David Nieper – www.DavidNieper.co.uk –   is a British manufacturer employing British skills for direct marketing and export of British fashion.  Niepers is (from their website) a British fashion business committed to being world class in everything they do. They design and make premium quality clothes for women over 50 in Derbyshire – the traditional home of British textiles. They use time-honoured techniques and put loving care into every stitch and offer a wide range of sizes – all expertly designed and cut to fit and flatter. David Nieper is a family business (280 staff – UK and EU) and includes the David Nieper Education Trust (50 staff UK).

Their success seems to be (mostly) based on the opposite of traditional thinking about success factors in retailing.  Current retailing orthodoxies are now being challenged.  Right up to the point of sale, Niepers seem to do things differently.  They manufacture in the UK; they prefer very short UK supply chains; they create their own solutions for skills shortages (high-level in their case) and link all of this in practical terms with education. They are an online business – used to be called “mail order” – skilfully developed out of the old principles established by the likes of Empire Stores and Gratton Warehouses. They sell to an established client base – which they cultivate – and also off the page.

About Christopher Nieper

Christopher Nieper is Managing Director of his family fashion business David Nieper Ltd and founder of David Nieper Education Trust together employing 370 staff in Britain and Europe.

Christopher joined his family manufacturing business in 1986, in Alfreton, Derbyshire, a former coal mining town and then witnessed the decimation of British textiles as 2.5 million textile/fashion manufacturing jobs went ‘offshore’ leaving just 36,000 today.  30 years ago, the company faced a stark survival choice; go offshore in search of cheap labour or else. They decided to remain loyal to British skills and have never looked back.

Christopher pioneered the company’s use of retail by direct marketing, reorganised the factory for productivity, opened European sales offices and developed a ‘Made in England’ women’s fashion brand.  Following the 2008 financial crisis he opened new factories for knitwear and catalogue print to secure British supplies with British jobs.

The company has multiplied its retail sales 30-fold in 30 years. 1/3 of sales are export to private clients in Europe yet it still manufactures 100% in Britain and today enjoys record sales of its luxury womenswear.

David Nieper Education Trust:   Christopher formed an Education Trust and became Britain’s first retailer and fashion business to sponsor state education, with a National mission and a highly innovative curriculum offering its students a winning career advantage. The company also runs a regional Primary school event (BBC E. Midlands) sponsors undergraduate scholarships, has its own sewing school and it has led the recent Government Trailblazer for new apprenticeship standards in fashion & textiles.

Christopher is a frequent contributor in the media:  Recently including BBC news, BBC Breakfast, BBC Sunday politics, ITV news, Sky news, BBC E. Midlands, Al Jazeera: see: TV clips

BBC Radio 4: (Today, The bottom line, Analysis), BBC World service, BBC Radio Derby, BBC Radio 5  Radio clips

About Cathy Kay

Cathy Kay has over 20 years’ experience in recruitment and executive search. She has expertise across all sectors for Fortune 500, as well as recently funded start-up companies. She works across all sectors and functions; particularly recognised for her work within the technology industry including innovation, digital transformation, technology infrastructures and for companies where tech is a vital platform. Cathy also has notable success in Supply Chain and Transport & Logistics and her Private Equity clients appreciate her ability to find great Chief Finance Officers. Focusing on Senior Managers, Directors and above, Cathy also supports entrepreneurs in start-up communities advising on growth and people. She is leading the diversity initiatives for Russam GMS and serves as a Trustee for Trustees Unlimited.  

About Russam GMS

Jason Atkinson and Ian Joseph bought Russam GMS from Charles Russam in 2014 which he had established in 1982. Charles took over Devonshire House at the time of the MBO and since then Jason and Ian have been much appreciated supporters.  We are delighted that they are hosting us on this occasion.

Russam GMS is the longest established and most experienced Interim Management provider in the UK and has also grown to be a leading Executive Search firm. In both areas they operate across multiple sectors and industries.  They have also created and built a renowned Not for Profit and Charity division, which has helped some of the best-known charities in the UK and overseas to find the leaders who are now making big impacts. Within this division, they have set up Trustees Unlimited, www.trustees-unlimited.co.uk.  a joint venture with the NCVO (The National Council of Voluntary Organisations) and Bates Wells & Braithwaite, a leading UK law firm. An important initiative is the Step on Board Programme, their full-service board-level volunteering programme.  Russam GMS is also a founder member of the Wil Group, an International network that specialises in introducing Board Level Interim Managers to global clients.  www.wilgroup.net

Russam GMS Ltd, the Gridiron Building, One Pancras Square, London, N1C 4AG, 0845 658 1717,  www.russam-gms.co.uk

Date: Wednesday, 27 March 2019. We start with drinks at 6pm with the Talk starting at 6.30pm, followed by Drinks and Canapés at 7.30pm. Formal close is at 8pm. Please note changed pricing for this Talk.

Location: The Gridiron, One Pancras Square, London, N1C 4AG, 0845 658 1717

Date & Time

Wed 27 March 2019
6.00 - 9.00 pm


Russam GMS Ltd
The Gridiron
One Pancras Square