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Obituary: fashion veteran Gillian Berkmen

Fashion retailing veteran Gillian Berkmen died on January 28 after a long fight with cancer. She was 54.  

A highly popular colleague and friend to many, she started in the retail business in 1981 as a management trainee with Harrods. Her career encompassed some of the biggest names on the UK high street, as her roles included being a merchandiser at the Burton Group, buying and merchandising controller at River Island, divisional buying manager at BHS, buying and merchandising director at Miss Selfridge, brand director at Mothercare and director at Mappin & Webb.

She was a non-executive director at Jacques Vert for a few years from 2009 and most recently worked with Andrew Jennings at Karstadt, where she was chief merchandise officer and the first woman to be appointed to the board of the German department store group. 

Her husband, Dana Berkmen, told Drapers: “Gillian was an extraordinary role model, an exceptional leader, a trusted partner, valued friend and treasured wife to me. In her illustrious career she worked across all categories and was pivotal in the growth of the excellent businesses she worked with.

“Throughout her career, Gillian proved an inspiration to a great many people. She was professional, human, kind and compassionate with a fabulous sense of humour in the most challenging of times. Her sense of fun, along with her terrific work ethic, heightened her ability to be a mentor to those learning from her. Gillian will be remembered incredibly fondly by many and will be a sincere loss to the industry.”

Funeral details have yet to be announced.

Readers' comments (5)

  • She was warm, witty and talented - we will miss her

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  • So sad at the loss of Gillian Berkmen, a great loss to the industry and a great friend and mentor to me. I will miss her dearly... what a personality and inspirational for women in business, she was a one of a kind.

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  • I am so shocked , and lost for words. She will be missed.

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  • Such a sad loss to so many - I shall always remember her as the warm, inspiring, down to earth lady that she was.

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  • david short

    So very sad to hear the terrible news. Although I had not spoken to Gillian for some years I will always remember her terrific personality, gentle humour, honesty and professionalism. A terrific lady.

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