Tributes have poured in for leading womenswear buyer Hilary Santell, who died last month aged 51 after a long battle against cancer.
Santell started in retail in 1983 as a graduate trainee at Burton Group, and held positions including buying and merchandising controller for Arcadia-owned Topshop. In 1992, she became womenswear buying and merchandising director at House of Fraser and then womenswear director at Next in 1995.
Three years later she became director for buying at now-defunct brand house Marchpole. A stint as fashion and footwear director for Littlewoods followed in 2002 before she was appointed director for buying and merchandising at department store chain Beales in 2004.
Chris Tideman, former Burton Group chief executive, said: “She stood out as mature, focused and extremely professional.”
Retail Trust chief executive Nigel Rothband, with whom Santell worked at Burton Group, said: “She was always absolutely focused, extremely professional and very determined.”
Teresa Tideman, formerly of Burton Group and now joint managing director and senior vice-president of the Disney Store, Europe, said she was “the person you wanted on your team and she always delivered what you wanted”. She added: “She had an incredible fashion nose, and always knew what was going to sell.”
Santell retired from Beales in August 2005 because of her illness but helped Rothband organise the Retail Trust Balls in 2009 and 2010.
Santell’s husband Stuart has requested that donations in her memory be made to Sue Ryder
Care via Tomalin & Son, Henley-on-Thames, RG9 1AG.