Numbers 31-40
31 Bob Marsh

Managing director, SB Capital Europe

Taking a lead in the continued consolidation of the furniture sector is Marsh's firm SB Capital, which specialises in retail turnarounds and owns Furnitureland and half of Land of Leather. Marsh has been adamant that Furnitureland will double its store numbers in the next couple of years. He got a head start on the expansion plans when SB Capital was called in to run the failed furniture chain Courts' 88 outlets until their closure in February. SB Capital bought six sites - bringing the number of Furnitureland stores to 27, with another two former Courts sites under negotiation.

32 Jacqueline Gold

Chief executive, Ann Summers

This unexpectedly reserved lady practically invented a high street retail category by taking the sleaze out of selling sex. There would be no chocolate body paint for sale in Bhs if it were not for Gold making sex on the high street acceptable.

She joined the business in 1979 seven years after her father and uncle, David and Ralph Gold, bought it. She launched the legendary party concept in 1981, which has since gone from strength to strength - and now oversees a business with a turnover last year of£81.1 million for the year to June 30. Ann Summers has a voracious expansion programme, opening some 18 stores last year with more planned this year. Gold regularly writes for Retail Week.

33 Derek Lovelock

Chief executive, Mosaic Fashions

High street players seeking a guide to successful womenswear retailing need look no further than Lovelock, one of the leading experts in his field.

Following his tenure as managing director of Sears Womenswear, Lovelock joined Oasis leading a management buy out of the chain in 2001. The business, since sold to Baugur, has expanded to form Mosaic, comprising Whistles, Karen Millen, Oasis and Coast. This means Lovelock is once again managing a wide stable of brands.

With Baugur's appetite for acquisition, no doubt more brands will join the group which will increase Lovelock's reach on the high street. With further international expansion also on the horizon many will be watching to see how Lovelock manages the next stage of development.

34 Paul Taylor

Chief executive, Hilco UK

A retailer's misfortune is Hilco's prosperity. Taylor's business operates in controversial waters, going in to failed enterprises and exiting with a profit.

The UK division is part of a consortium of investors, Epsilon Investments, which bought the Lehman Brothers' debt in defunct department store Allders. Epsilon put Allders in administration at the end of January, a week after it bought the debt, installing Kroll, with which Hilco has a close relationship, as administrator. It is not a pretty business, but the former managing director of Harrods appears not to be losing any sleep.

35 Mike Ashley

Proprietor, Sports World International

The words secretive and publicity-shy surround Mike Ashley, the owner of the rapidly growing Sports Soccer and Sports World chain, which is by all accounts doing roaring trade in a market that has been hit by supermarkets muscling in on sportswear.

His 164 store portfolio has put rivals under pressure and Sports Soccer's success was one of the contributing factors in JJB Sports issuing a profit warning last month. He also owns Lillywhites, the sportswear department store and acquired discount fashion retailer Cromwells Madhouse last October.

There were rumours last year that Ashley was interested in AllSports and with the chain up for sale his name is being touted as a potential buyer. With his business growing, quite possibly Ashley will be forced into the dreaded limelight soon.

36 John Richards


He may call himself a consultant, but that drab description masks the extent of John Richards' influence. An analyst for decades, individualistically flying in the face of City tradition by sporting a beard, Richards has worked for firms ranging from Capels to Deutsche Bank. He then struck out on his own and now works closely with, among others, Baugur, the Icelandic investor that owns some of the UK's best-known retail names.

Retained by Hawkpoint and Teather & Greenwood and a confidante of many of the sector's most powerful people, Richards became a non-executive at value retailer Brown & Jackson in March and he is a regular columnist for Retail Week. A description of Richards given by a City rival a decade ago probably still stands: 'He knows more about the retail industry and loves the retail industry more than any analyst I know. When Richards visits companies they learn as much from him as he does from them.'

37 JK Rowling

Author, Harry Potter series

What other single product could persuade thousands of people across the UK to queue up outside stores for midnight openings?

The Harry Potter series has made a millionaire of JK Rowling, but equally it has boosted sales not just for booksellers, but general merchandisers too, with the obligatory spin-off merchandise.

So far Rowling has shifted 270 million books in 62 languages and on July 16 this year she will release the sixth book in the seven-part series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

WHSmith has drawn up plans for midnight openings at 385 high street stores, compared with just 165 for the previous Potter book in 2003, thanks to the bewitching powers of Rowling.

38 Richard Ratner

Head of equities, Seymour Pierce

Love him or loathe him, Seymour Pierce analyst Richard Ratner's readiness to pass judgement on the retail sector, its companies and personalities, mean he is a ubiquitous commentator. His cheeky - and occasionally downright rude - observations make him a fixture on the financial pages.

The chocolate eclair-loving Ratner, a keen student of military history, is a long-standing sector analyst with an insider's grasp of the fashion business.

He follows a host of companies, including many of the smaller cap stocks ignored by bigger brokerships, and is seen as an astute reader of tycoon Philip Green's moves. While some chief executives might smart at Ratner's jibes, most know they cannot afford to ignore him.

39 Alex Fortescue

Director, Apax Partners

Fortescue has represented Apax in the deals with New Look, Focus Wickes and SilverScreen, among others. Fortescue joined Apax in 1999 from OC&C Strategy Consultants. He works closely with colleague Michael Ward, jointly leading the negotiations with Woolworths.

Now that Apax has withdrawn interest from Woolworths the question is where they will look for their next deal. With so much turmoil on the high street, it could be anyone.

40 Allan Leighton

Chairman, Bhs and Royal Mail Group

Simply being linked with Leighton appears to inject healthy interest in a retailer. Reports abound that the former Asda saviour, and advocate of multiple directorships, is on the hunt for another supermarket chain to turnaround, and that he's eyeing up Sainsbury's and now Morrisons as well. On the back of such speculation, both businesses have experienced a lift in share price.

Leighton is certainly not denying the rumours. If reports that he is in the US visiting investment firms are true, then the retail world may well see his return to the supermarket sector. Alternatively, counter reports suggest that Leighton is being lined up to take over as chief executive of Morrisons from Bob Stott.

Numbers 1-10

Numbers 11-20

Numbers 21-30

Numbers 41-50