John Watkinson


John enhanced the profitability of a host of UK retailers during twenty-five years on the retail frontline – recovering retail brands and building businesses across a variety of sectors.

In 1999, he joined Hamleys plc, reinventing the iconic brand, creating the highly profitable Bear Factory business and leading a successful management buyout of the company to become Chief Executive. In 2005 John led a management buy-in to the Jones Bootmaker footwear business, backed by Barclays, and grew EBITDA by over 50% in two years. In 2008, he set up Retail InsideOut to advise retailers and retail suppliers on business growth, supply chain improvement, operational effectiveness and leadership skills.

Read more

Alongside his retail work, John is a Group Chairman for Vistage International, the world’s leading organisation for Chief Executive development . He currently works with more than thirty businesses generating turnover of over £500m and employing more than 3,000 people.

John has been a non-executive director since 2005 and sat on the board of Anglian Water and the Crown Commercial Service for many years. He is currently a non-executive Chairman and board advisor to several businesses – both in the UK and internationally.

John has been happily married for twenty-nine years and has two grown-up children studying at University. He recently resumed playing golf after retiring from his local cricket team!

Read less