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20 Neil Clifford (27)

Chief executive, Kurt Geiger

If there’s another chief executive of a privately owned company who has put out more trading statements than Neil Clifford this year, then Drapers would like to meet them. Clifford may as well be leading a publicly listed retail business he’s talking to the business press so often. Despite continually denying speculation that private equity owners Graphite Capital may look to offload Kurt Geiger next year, it looks to most like something is afoot.

And why wouldn’t it be? This premium footwear retailer is on a roll. Its product styling is unbeatable and when presented in its newly opened flagship in London’s Covent Garden, the full package blows the footwear competition away.

Both sales and EBITDA are flying (operating profit rose 21% to £11.5m for the year ended January 31), perhaps explaining why Clifford decided to call his spring 11 collection Bird of Paradise. Refurbished departments in both Selfridges’ Shoe Galleries (where Kurt Geiger is the biggest sales contributor) and in Harrods have also paved the way for Clifford to formulate a convincing international roll-out strategy. Stores in Russia, Turkey and Malaysia are all earmarked for next year.

Oh, and it helps that he loves a bit of fashion front-row profile too. In October a photograph of him and his trusty umbrella at Sarah Burton’s first collection for Alexander McQueen appeared in The Evening Standard. Just the ticket.

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