It wasn’t difficult working out who’s heading downwards on the Power List this year – the challenge was establishing who should be going up. In the unlikely event that you needed confirmation of just how brutal this recession has been, the list of fallers and those dropping out of the Power List altogether shows just how many reputations have been dented or destroyed by the downturn.
It’s reflective of the year’s casualties. Woolworths is gone and two of Marks & Spencer’s main board are gone. And Baugur is gone, and along with it the financial whizz-kiddery that has been such a feature of the past few years.
While financial engineering is out, retailing is back in. No wonder that David Jones is the highest new entrant, and consummate retailers like Rob Templeman and Lord Harris are among the big risers.
The grocers have continued their gradual conquest of the upper echelons of the list. Sir Terry Leahy remains unopposed in the top slot, but Justin King, Andy Bond and Marc Bolland are all edging up the list, with the Co-op’s Peter Marks on the fringe of the top 20 too, on the back of the takeover of Somerfield.
Market conditions have worked in their favour for sure, but the new generation of grocery chiefs are notable leaders of people, and masters of customer understanding. For the first time in a decade, they will be causing Leahy sleepless nights.
Despite her zero profile, Kate Swann consolidates her position as retail’s most influential woman, while dotcom has made its strongest showing yet, with Jeff Bezos occupying the 20th slot as Amazon branches out into virtually every category.
Look out for the new generation of non-food retail leaders around the 20s. Simon Fox, Ben Gordon and Lisa Morgan are all doing tremendous things with the sort of specialist retailers many had written off as history. All three could be destined for bigger things if their success is maintained.
The influence of politicians has waned. The rudderless Government and the inefficacy of its measures designed to help retail have shown that the current administration lacks either the will or ability to help the sector. Will Prime Minister in waiting Cameron, who makes his debut in the list this year, and is married to a retailer, be able to do better?
As ever, there will be sins of omission and misplacings – that’s part of the fun. We’d be more than happy to hear your thoughts.