Tips for success from the women who run retail

It is an often quoted fact, but as the UK’s largest private sector employer, with 2.77 million people working in it, retail has a predominantly female workforce but only 5% of women occupy the senior decision-making roles.

Now, the UK’s leading female retailers including Specsavers founder, Dame Mary Perkins, Hobbs CEO Nicky Dulieu and Walmart board executive Judith McKenna are lending their support to encourage women and girls to see the career potential offered by the retail industry as nominations open for this year's Specsavers everywoman in Retail Ambassador programme.

Created to highlight the breadth of opportunity within the sector, women working in all areas of retail, of all ages and from across the country are encouraged to nominate themselves and the successful colleagues who inspire them, for the 2014 programme. Some of the UK’s leading female retailers and past everywoman Award winners have shared their top tips for getting into the industry and navigating your way to the top. Here's what they had to say...

"Confidence is key. Without confidence, the business world can push you aside. Be a sponge at the start of your career - absorb all the information you can find and research your competitors; you'll need to keep one step ahead of them."

Kelly Hoppen


"Trust your instincts. A lot of retail is intuitive. Use your networks exhaustively and don't limit your horizons. Find a business you are passionate about and understand your customer, what they want and how to communicate with them."

Nicky Dulieu
CEO Hobbs

"Do something you love, asl questions and don't be afraid to have an opinion when asked back. Work hard, but work smart and if you think you can do something better, don't be afraid to try. Find a mentor to guide and help you."

Judith McKenna
Executive VP Strategy and International Development, Walmart International

"Good retail is about theatre. Have an eye for detail and understand your business. Learn on the shop floe and get experience in different types of business. Focus o customer service but don't forget to understand the numbers."

Helen Pattinson
Co-founder, Montezuma's Chocolates

"Stay ahead of the game by connecting customers' experiences across various channels. Don't be afraid to be disruptive - dare to think differently. Write your own rules and try something new every day."

Holly Tucker, MBE
Co-founder, not

The 2014 Retail Ambassadors will be announced at an evening reception at the Waldorf Hilton on Tuesday 23 September.  To nominate a woman in retail or to request a speaker visit

Sophie MacIntyre

Wednesday, 16 April 2014 at 2:44pm

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