John Watkinson

Cambridgeshire

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.

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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!

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