Spring Fair organiser i2i Events Group has revealed the winners of its inaugural Spring Fair Buyers Power List Awards.

Ocado’s Gillian Leahy tops Spring Fair Buyers Power List

Spring Fair organiser i2i Events Group has revealed the winners of its inaugural Spring Fair Buyers Power List Awards.

Ocado's Gillian Leahy tops Spring Fair Buyers Power List

Sponsored by Dutch lifestyle brand Light & Living, the Awards are designed to recognise influential buying teams and individuals across all sectors represented at the Spring Fair, which was held at the NEC in Birmingham from February 1 to February 5.

i2i Events Group portfolio director for retail Louise Young said: “The Buyers Power List Awards are dedicated to celebrating the people at the pinnacle of British retail, and Spring Fair is proud to be driving this exciting and relevant industry initiative.” Light & Living International sales director Paul Biermann added: “I’m extremely proud to be part of this year’s Buyers Power List Awards, which shine a spotlight on outstanding men and women who are all true inspiration to their buying colleagues.”

There are three categories: Power 30; Best Independent Retail Buying Team, and Best Multiple Retailer or Department Store.

The Buyers Power List comprises 30 individual shortlisted buyers who are influential and distinguished in their sector, because they are trend-setting, consistently make good buying decisions, have a passion to support their industry or have enhanced a retail brand through their own efforts. The List was compiled and reviewed in the run-up to the Spring Fair by an advisory panel of key industry influencers that included trade associations BHETA (British Home Enhancement Trade Association), Bira (British Independent Retailers Association), Bira Direct and The Giftware Association.

Selected from 150 entries, the Power 30 names was selected. In particular order, the List comprises: Adam O’Sullivan, Senior Vendor Manager, Amazon; John Procter, Founder & Owner, Scribbler; Nicola Hattersley, Buyer Cookshop, John Lewis; Amanda Bell, Head of Homewares, Bentalls; Justin Kowbel, Founder, Borough Kitchen; Nic Stone, Category Manager, The Bottle Kiln; Amanda Reed, Buying Controller, Leekes; Lindsey Adam, Founder, Bonkers; Pat Davidson, Managing Director, Liquorice Tree; Ben Phillips, Managing Director, Steamer Trading Cookshop; Mark Jones, Managing Director, Occasions Direct; Richard Barker, Director, Cilla and Camilla; Chris Gardner, Buying Manager-Cookshop & Dining, Selfridges; Martin Shires, Head of Buying, House of Fraser; Sally Robinson, Owner/Buyer, Mrs Robinson’s Store; Claire Solis, Director of Buying & Merchandising, Dunelm; Matthew Canwell, Director of Buying, Lakeland; Sarah Pheysey, Housewares Sales Manager, Jarrold of Norwich; Dick Mawdsley, Director, Utility; Mette Downer, Managing Director, The Great Gift Company; Sarah Brett, Buying Manager, Waitrose; Gillian Leahy, Buying Manager, Ocado; Michael Edwards, Homewares Buyer, The Range; Simon Woolgrove, Senior Buyer, Achica; Jane Hudson, Founder & Buying Director, Qwerkity; Miles Robinson, Co-owner, House of Cards; Terry Harvey, Managing Director, M&P Cards; Jo Barber, Managing Director, The Stationery Boutique; Natalie Ann Riley, Hamleys and Veronica Davidson, Buyer, Lakeland.

From the list of 30 names, i2i Events Group asked industry buyers and brands to vote for individuals of companies that represent ‘buying brilliance’. The ‘Power 5’ was narrowed down to Dick Mawdsley of Utility, Gillian Leahy of Ocado, Jo Barber of The Stationery Boutique, Nicola Hattersley of John Lewis and Mette Downer of The Great Gift Company.

The overall individual Power 30 winner is Gillian Leahy, who was selected for her ability to keep an eye on product trends, excellent product knowledge, understanding customers’ needs and meeting them, and willingness to work closely with suppliers. Commenting on her achievement, Gillian said: “I’m very humbled to have been nominated, and was even more blown away that I won! I couldn’t have done it without all the great suppliers who have the same passion for product that we do [at Ocado].”

The Best Independent Retail Buying Team was awarded to a team of buyers for a privately-owned independent store or chain of stores. They were assessed on their contribution to the industry, rapport with suppliers, and ability to differentiate their retail business in the marketplace.

The shortlist of five comprised Prezola, Scotts & Co, Steamer Trading Cookshop, Temptation Gifts and The Dulwich Trader. The winner is Temptation Gifts. Managing director Mike Adams said: “We are honoured and flattered to have been nominated. Temptation Gifts was established in 1983, so we have over 30 years’ buying experience in the gift industry. We now buy for our seven town-centre stores and our two multi-award winning websites, and the range of products that we carry is both wide-ranging and increasingly diverse. Our four-strong buying team spend four full days at Spring Fair each year – we really do consider the show to be the premier buying experience in the gift calendar.”

The Best Multiple Retailer or Department Store Team was judged on the level of support they give to the industry alongside demonstrable care for suppliers, as well as their ability to ignite retail trends, build brands and engage with customers.

The shortlist of five comprised Debenhams, Harrods, John Lewis, Oliver Bonas and National Trust. John Lewis was declared the winner, for demonstrating ‘a clear drive to excel in all of these areas’.

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