Jonathan Cheetham, Grand Central

The opening of Grand Central was one of the biggest retail events for Birmingham in a very long time, firmly positioning the city as a major shopping destination. Jonathan Cheetham is Grand Central’s general manager. He is also chairman of the Birmingham Retail Business Improvement District (BID).

His role is to ensure that Birmingham maintains a thriving retail environment encompassing national brands and independents. Grand Central involved a five-year £150 million transformation and has attracted some of the biggest names in shopping.

Steve Hewlett, Retail Birmingham

Manager of Retail Birmingham, Steve Hewlett.
Manager of Retail Birmingham, Steve Hewlett.

Steve Hewlett is manager of the Retail Birmingham Business Improvement District (BID). He has led Retail BID since 2010, having previously been with the Birmingham City Centre Partnership.

As well as working with the BID team to develop its proposals for 2017-2022, he has responsibility for working with the city council, the police, Centro and other agencies on ensuring support for the city’s shop owners and centre managers.

Michaela Moore, Bullring

Michaela Moore, general manager of Bullring
Michaela Moore, general manager of Bullring

Michaela Moore was appointed as general manager at Birmingham’s Bullring at the end of 2014. She brings 25 years of retail experience to the role, having held positions in a variety of markets from luxury brands to fast fashion. Before her current post, she was at fashion brand Jaeger, overseeing e-commerce, marketing and retail operations.

Before that, she held several senior roles at Burberry where she looked after more than 160 store openings and refurbishments across Europe including the brand’s flagship store on London’s Regent Street.

Jim McCarthy, Poundland

Jim McCarthy
Jim McCarthy

Jim McCarthy – a man with retail in his blood – has just announced his retirement as chief executive of Willenhall-based Poundland. He took on the role of chief executive in 2006.

Under his leadership, Poundland has been transformed from an under-performing chain of cheap-and-cheerful stores to an empire employing 15,000 staff with aspirations to open 1,000 shops across the UK and Ireland. But the everything-for-a-£1 philosophy still holds good, and in 2014 the chain opened its first store in Spain.

Peter Blakemore, Blakemores

Peter Blakemore, managing director of AF Blakemore
Peter Blakemore, managing director of AF Blakemore

Peter Blakemore is managing director of Wolverhampton-based food wholesalers A F Blakemore and Sons.

Blakemore’s is one of the biggest food supply companies in the UK and is also a key player in the Spar Group, running well over 300 Spar shops throughout the country through Blakemore Retail.

The group also services around 940 Spar shops and is the largest member of the Landmark Wholesale Group. Peter Blakemore represents the UK on the Spar Food Distribution International Board.

Raj Chatha, European Food Brokers

A successful drinks distribution business has provided Raj Chatha with a healthy fortune. Raj Chatha and his family run the consistently profitable European Food Brokers – part of EFB Holdings - in Walsall – a business that turns over nearly £70 million a year and includes EFB Retail, EFB Leisure, Whittalls Wines and Wine Cellar Trading, as well as property interests.

With bases in Halifax and Gateshead as well as Walsall, EFB is now one of the largest family-owned independent drinks distributors in the UK.

Richard and Brenda Smith, PCMS

Richard Smith
Richard Smith

PCMS – founded by computer programmer Richard Smith and his wife Brenda in 1982 – supplies its retail software to Arcadia, John Lewis, Waitrose, Ann Summers, Waterstones, Marks and Spencer and Poundworld among others. The company also helped drive the UK expansion of North American gourmet doughnut chain Krispy Kreme. PCMS has its headquarters on the Westwood Business park in Coventry, as well as offices in Huntingdon. Its international reach includes a North American subsidiary in Cincinnati, as well as operations or distributors in Argentina, Mexico, Peru, Italy, Australia, South Africa and around the Pacific Rim.

Lisa Williams, John Lewis

Lisa Williams, store manager of John Lewis in Birmingham
Lisa Williams, store manager of John Lewis in Birmingham

Lisa Williams is head of branch at John Lewis’s regional flagship store in the Grand Central shopping development. John Lewis has invested £35 million in the 250,000 sq ft department store which is the largest outside London. Shirley-born Lisa Williams has been with John Lewis for 25 years. She was previously head of branch at the firm’s High Wycombe store, overseeing a major redevelopment which led to a 27 per cent growth in sales.

David Atkins, Hammerson

David Atkins, Hamemerson
David Atkins, Hamemerson

Hammerson acquired the Grand Central shopping centre from Birmingham City Council for £335 million. The London and Paris-based retail operator also owns The Bullring. David Atkins - a chartered surveyor by profession - is Hammerson’s chief executive. He has had a variety of roles at Hammerson, including responsibility for the firm’s entire UK retail portfolio. He is a member of the board of the European Public Real Estate Association, director and president of the advisory committee of the British Council of Shopping Centres and a member of the policy committee of the British Property Federation.

Andrew Cole, Touchwood

Andrew Cole is general manager of the Touchwood Shopping Centre in Solihull. He has responsibility for overseeing the centre’s day-to-day operations and developing its retail mix. He joined Touchwood from Solihull’s Ramada Hotel where he was general manager. He has served on a number of Solihull’s business organisations including the Solihull Tourism Forum, the Solihull Business Improvement District and the Chamber of Commerce. Touchwood has more than 80 stores and 20 bars and restauarants.