Retail Week has published the Retail 100, the 18th annual celebration of the UK’s most influential leaders. Fourteen people were also named potential retail leaders of tomorrow – we highlight three you should have on your radar
While they have not made our main index this year, 14 individuals have been forecast by our expert team of journalists and analysts to drive major growth or become an even bigger name at the helm of a major UK retailer or brand in the next five years.
Spanning fashion, beauty and electronics to homewares and pet care, the Retail 100 Ones to Watch represent the up-and-coming names the industry needs to learn from and collaborate with, as we look to 2024.
Below, we have profiled three of the 14 names recognised. You can view the entire Ones to Watch, and Retail 100 in full, for free here.
Carl Pei, chief executive and co-founder, Nothing
Swedish-born entrepreneur Carl Pei is making something out of Nothing, literally. Pei, founder of consumer electronics company OnePlus, launched the London-based, cutting-edge, tech start-up, Nothing, in October 2020.
He has set industry tails wagging with his proprietary smartphone, Phone (1). The Android-powered phone and iPhone challenger has a ‘glyph interface’ which uses unique light patterns to indicate who’s calling – as an alternative to a ringtone – and signals app notifications and charging status. The phone display also serves as an embedded ring light for taking photos.
The Phone (1), made from 100% recycled aluminium, has a 50 MP dual camera – the iPhone 14’s is only 48 MP. Gorilla Glass offers greater protection and durability.
In December 2022, Pei opened the retailer’s first store in Soho, London. Operating across two floors, the top floor stocks peripherals, such as Nothing ear buds; limited-edition merchandise, including its own label beer; as well as audio inventions from Stockholm-based collaborator Teenage Engineering. Its lower ground level is a space for exhibitions, events and workshops.
Having generated $200m (£164m) in revenue in 2022 and sold more than 1.5 million products, Pei launched Nothing’s second smartphone iteration Phone (2), with upgrades to its hardware, display and performance, in July 2023. The business had raised a fresh round of funding in June totalling $96m (£78m), led by investment firm Highland Europe, existing investors, and music group Swedish House Mafia.
Jody Plows, chief executive, Nobody’s Child
Eco-conscious fashion retailer Nobody’s Child was founded in 2015 by serial entrepreneur Andrew Xeni. It has gone from strength to strength under Jody Plows’ leadership since she was appointed chief executive in March 2020.
Plows, former merchandising director of New Look, F&F and ex-buyer at Reiss, has overseen Nobody’s Child’s omnichannel growth quadrupling revenues from 2022-2023.
Plows has led the tie-up with M&S – it was the first guest brand to launch with the retailer in 2020 – which now has a 27% stake in the business. In March 2023, Plows oversaw the roll-out of 40 seasonal pop-ups in M&S stores across London, and the wider UK. Since March, more than 10,000 customers have shopped Nobody’s Child in store and the pop-ups have helped boost online search on M&S.com by 43%. M&S then invested “mid-single figure millions” in May 2023 to support further expansion and this extends to global growth and new retailer partnerships.
Plows revealed in June 2023 that the business was expanding to the US through tie-ups with fashion brands Anthropologie and Nordstrom, with European and Middle Eastern expansion “imminent” in countries including Germany, Finland and Italy, as well as in Dubai and Kuwait, by the end of the year.
Lucas London, chief executive and co-founder, Lick Home
Lucas London founded disruptive DTC paint brand Lick Home three years ago with his former Airtasker – the outsourcing marketplace – colleague Sam Brady.
The pair launched the business on the first day of the UK Covid-19 lockdown with a range of on-trend paint colours that could be easily colour matched online and purchased immediately. It turned out to be great timing as many consumers embarked on home DIY projects. In the first eight months of trading, the business achieved a $7m (£5.7m) revenue run-rate.
Fast forward to 2023 and London’s business has expanded to tools, wallpaper and trade products and, as of August 2022 and July 2023, is now available to buy online via Screwfix and B&Q, respectively.
Lick has raised over $29m (£23.8m) in funding since its inception with backing from VC fund OMERS Ventures and private investors such as Zoopla founder Alex Chesterman.This has helped the business evolve – Lick’s page on B&Q is more than just a product showcase; it includes tutorials – such as how to create an interiors mood board, and how to prep and paint a room – as well as community reviews and inspiration.
While partnerships have so far only covered online, London also operates a Lick store on Northcote Road, London, which he says, “customers are flocking to visit from all over the UK”. And now global growth is on the cards. In April 2022 Lick expanded to the US (online) and plans to go Europe-wide is also in the works.
Discover who else is changing the way the industry thinks, operates and sells. Meet the Retail 100 and Ones to Watch and be inspired by the sector’s very best.
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