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The Drapers Power 100 lists those in UK fashion retail who have left the biggest mark on the industry. This year, leadership of the biggest players has remained largely stable. However, the bosses of several mid-sized businesses have disappeared from the list. We have also added a sustainability section for the first time, in recognition of the growing awareness of the environmental and social impact of fashion retail. The list was selected by the Drapers editorial team using criteria including trading performance and the individual’s personal influence on the industry.
It was a year of celebration for Primark in 2019: the value retailer marked its 50th year of trading, CEO Paul Marchant his 10th anniversary at its helm and it scooped a hat-trick of trophies at the Drapers Awards in November.
Fast fashion empire Boohoo Group has had a big year. The owner of Boohoo, Nasty Gal and PrettyLittleThing bought premium womenswear brands Karen Millen and Coast out of administration and rival fast fashion brand MissPap.
Knowing its customer and its place in the market has allowed Peter Cowgill’s JD Sports Fashion group to thrive while its rivals struggle in a tough environment.
Retail mogul Mike Ashley was never far from the headlines in 2019, which included admitting in July that problems at House of Fraser were “nothing short of terminal in nature”. He also sought, but failed, to buy its struggling rival Debenhams, and had greater success with preppy young fashion chain Jack Wills, which he bought in August.
Pablo Isla’s Inditex defied the retail doom and gloom once again in 2019, delivering another record performance. Following a summer dominated by Zara’s ubiquitous “spotty dress”, sales at the group were up 7% year on year in the six months to 31 July, reaching €12.8bn (£11.4bn).
Simon Forster became managing director at the retail arm of Selfridges in February. Under his leadership, the luxury department store continues to innovate with its digital offer and store experiences, including the opening of a three-screen in-store cinema in November.
The ever-outspoken Lord Simon Wolfson raised his head above the parapet again this year on matters pertinent to the industry, namely retail rents, which he said were unsustainably high.
Bernard Arnault is a constant at French luxury group LVMH, owner of luxury brands including Celine, Louis Vuitton and Dior. In July, it acquired a minority stake in British brand Stella McCartney, and in November it bought iconic US jeweller Tiffany & Co for €14.7bn (£12.6bn).
Innovation has been on the agenda at German etailer Zalando. In October, it outlined a new sustainability strategy including going carbon neutral across its own operations, deliveries and returns; eliminating single-use plastics; and for 20% of its gross merchandise volume to comprise more sustainable products by 2023.
If there is one name that grabbed the attention of the industry this year, it was Daniel Lee, creative director of Kering-owned luxury Italian brand Bottega Veneta. The 33-year-old British born designer joined Bottega Veneta as creative director in June 2018, taking over from Tomas Maier.
POWER 100 ILLUSTRATION AND ANIMATION BY MELANIE STIRNER