On Friday pats on the back were being passed around the fashion retail world after Drapers released its annual top 100 list of movers and shakers in the industry.
If this year’s list was a dinner party, Mike Ashley would probably refuse to hand Primark’s Paul Marchant the peas after he took his top spot, Sir Philip Green would be fighting for elbow space between John Lewis managing director Andy Street and New Look owner Christo Wiese, and George Osborne (yes, even the chancellor makes an appearance) would be in charge of divvying up the bill at the end of the night.
The list not only gives the men behind the businesses a chance to grandstand on their achievements of the last 12 months, it also reflects the industry in which they operate.
And this year’s top 10 was dominated by men after Fiona Lambert faced stiff competition to remain at the top table, dropping to 16th place. Despite appearing to be a man’s world, though, Drapers can’t help but highlight the fantastic women in the overall list; not least Topshop managing director Mary Homer (19), Bonmarché chief executive Beth Butterwick (22) and ex-Net-a-Porter boss Natalie Massenet (41).
In total, there were 23 risers up the list this year but good fortunes were clearly sparse, with 37 bosses dropping down the rankings. No more than 12 managed to hold their positions from 2014, but a staggering 28 new names made the cut.
Another notable observation is the rate at which some have climbed and others have fallen. What this reveals is that elements such as a persistent discount culture, currency fluctuations and the worst summer since 2009 clearly had a tough effect on many retailers. However, the musical chairs of job roles also played a part, with several people quitting their posts during the year – Colin Henry (Jaeger), Natalie Massenet (Net-a-Porter) and Melissa Potter (Clarks) being just some of the examples.
But it’s not all bad news; some thrived in the last 12 months despite the challenges faced. The biggest riser was Farfetch founder and chief executive José Neves, up 14 places from 72 to 58, largely down to his acquisition of London independent Browns. Neves is tailed in his rise by Shop Direct chief executive Alex Baldock, F&F’s Jason Tarry and John Lewis commercial director Paula Nickolds – all of whom climbed 12 places from 2014.
The theme behind new entries – aside from George Osborne, who maintains his grip on the industry through business rates – appears to be new businesses… or, at least, new leaders. Federico Marchetti, chief executive of the newly combined Yoox Net-a-Porter group is one obvious example, as are Andy Bond and Adrian Mountford of the recently launched Pep & Co chain, and Darren Topp, the freshly installed boss of BHS off the back of its £1 sale.
Some of the more topical new entries include Roman co-founder and managing director Rick Christodoulou, who caused a stir with #ThatDress, model of the moment Cara Delevingne and reality stars Kendall and Kylie Jenner among others.
It may have only been less than a week since 2015’s list went public, but whispers in the industry have already turned to who might take the crown (and the jester’s hat) in 2016. Could George Osborne abolish business rates altogether and rocket to #1, or will Mike Ashley pack up his doings and live a life of philanthropy (as much as we’d like to see it, it may cost him a few places)?
Leave your predictions in the comments below and we’ll revisit this post in December 2016.