The Retail Week Power List has been issued and frankly I feel it’s an anti-climax.
Charlie Mayfield at number one (what’s that all about?), Judith McKenna - the newly appointed chief operating officer of Asda (and one of the few women on the list) - demoted from 81st to 91st place.
I admit I’m writing with the benefit of hindsight because Judith was promoted 10 days after the list came out. But that is both trade magazines that have overlooked Philip Clarke for the number one spot this year, both on the basis that he is newly appointed and that Richard Brasher is the UK chief executive.
I disagree. When Obama took over from Bush, he automatically became the most powerful man in the free world the second he was sworn in.
Secondly, Philip Clarke has the power of appointment of the UK chief executive. Charlie runs an £8.2bn business, Phillip runs a £72.1bn business - whatever definition of power you use, there is only one winner.
In my opinion, about the only thing Retail Week managed to get right with the Power List was maintaining the unbroken run of omitting me.
Another omission was Mary Portas, our saviour of the high streets. I have unearthed a few more quotes about what a champion of retail she is. On the sale of Habitat to Homebase she wrote “the thought of Homebase bodging up Habitat makes me want to weep”. This is a disgraceful comment. Home Retail will build the brand and invest in it to create jobs.
Another Mary pearl was “the muppets at Primark need stopping. Why do people still buy from that dump?”
Finally this insightful perspective on WHSmith: “WHSmith used to be a wonderful business, now it’s just a complete hellhole.”
We are facing the most challenging conditions in retail in living memory and we need to be constructive in how we talk about our industry not just shoot from the hip with sound bites.
Retail Week and the BRC should join forces in telling the Government it has appointed the wrong person to undertake this review.
- Co-founder and joint managing director, Barracuda Search