Top voices from John Lewis, Liberty and M&S to speak at Top Drawer

Top Drawer, which kicks off tomorrow (Sunday January 15), has released details of the line-up of retail experts that will deliver presentations at its Academy Live theatre.

The three-day trade show runs to Tuesday (January 17) at Olympia in London. Encompassing four sections – Home, Gift, Fashion, Craft and Food – the exhibition will feature thousands of design-led UK and overseas brands.

Organiser Clarion Events promises that the series of talks will offer ‘fresh thinking, new perspectives and deep industry knowledge’, and offer ‘practical advice and tackle future-thinking topics looking at the changing retail landscape in 2017’.

There are three keynote presentations. Tomorrow Leanne Manfredi, who is programme manager of participation and co-design at the V&A (The Victoria and Albert Museum in London), will speak on ‘the uses of design in the 21st century museum’, focusing on the resurgence of British craft and the wider social impact of design.

On Monday (January 16), Marks & Spencer’s food, wine & flowers content editor Emma Slate will discuss ‘trend to table – what you’ll be eating in 2017 and why you should care’. Emma will share her industry insight to reveal the biggest and most surprising trends we can expect to see in food in 2017.

Rounding off the show on Tuesday (January 17), John Lewis head of visual merchandising Lucy Lines will share her expertise in visual marketing, from window dressing to being on-trend in 2017.

Lucy will be in conversation with Neil McLennan, former deputy editor of modern homes magazine ‘Livingetc’. The pair will cover ‘the role of visual merchandising in brand presentation’.

Other speakers include executives from Liberty,, bira (British Independent Retail Association) and Design Museum.


The full Academy Live listing is below:


11:40 – 12:20

Strength in numbers

Adriana Green – Scarecrow Boutique

Julie Conway, National Membership Manager – bira (British Independent Retail Association)

12:30 – 13:00

How to get on a journalist’s radar

Neil McLennan, Former Deputy Editor – LivingEtc.

14:00 – 14:30

KEYNOTE: The uses of design in the 21st century museum

Leanne Manfredi, Programme Manager for Participation and Co-design – V&A

15:40 – 16:10

Social media in an omnichannel retail strategy in 2017

Bethan Williams-James, Digital Marketing Executive – Liberty



11:40 – 12:10

How retailers can wrestle shoppers back from their phones

Katie Dailey, Freelance fashion journalist and stylist

Turning around the fortunes of a high street giant – a lesson in business
James Daunt, managing director, Waterstones 

14:00 – 14:40

KEYNOTE: Trend to table – What you’ll be eating in 2017 and why you should care

Emma Sleight, Food, wine & flowers content editor – Marks & Spencer

15:40 – 16:10

How we live now in 2017

Sally Bendelow, Creative Product Director –



11:40 – 12:10

The Geeks and The Freaks

Kevin Davis, Creative Director – The Designlab

12:30 – 13:10

KEYNOTE: The Role of Visual Merchandising in Brand Presentation

Lucy Lines, Head of Visual Merchandising – John Lewis

Neil McLennan, Former Deputy Editor – LivingEtc

14:00 – 14:40

British design and retail in 2017

Lucio London, Owner – Lucio Longoni Ltd

Rebecca Hossain, Head of Retail – Design Museum

15:40 – 16:20

Putting the Mart into Smartphone: mobilising your online business

Paul Skelton, Journalist, Editor and Author of ‘the DIY Guide to eCommerce’


Speakers (clockwise): Bethan Williams-James; Sally Bendelow; Steven Strickland; Rebecca Hossain; Lucy Lines; Leanne Manfredi

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