The 2011 Power List has changed a lot from previous years, and is already provoking debate - which is exactly the idea

This morning Retail Week launched its 2011 Power List with a breakfast at Claridges. The list is now available free on the Retail Week website and the print version comes out with Friday’s magazine. Our speaker at breakfast was broadcaster Andrew Neil, who gave a great speech on how he expects the coalition government to play out, and also highlighted the squeeze on living standards as the biggest threat to the Conservatives.

Of course it’s crucial to retailers too and Neil’s view is that there will be no improvement in consumer confidence until into 2013. Now there’s no knowing he’s right, but that’s beyond the horizon of even the most pessimistic retaielrs and suggests that things are only going to get tougher for ther foreseeable future.

Tough times are when good retailers come into their own of course, and there are plenty of those on the list. Some of the big talking points on twitter so far have been:

  • The choice of Charlie Mayfield as number one, ahead of Philip Clarke or Philip Green. Charlie’s entry explains why we think he belongs on the top of the list - the JLP model being in vogue in the wider world, and the strong performances of John Lewis and Waitrose over the past year. Also, when considering Phil Clarke, we were swayed by the UK now having its own dedicated CEO within Tesco, which wasn’t the case before, in the shape of Richard Brasher, and that Clarke is devoting much of his attention internationally.
  • The lack of women. The low number of women on the list is striking and has drawn quite a lot of comment on Twitter. But while you could make a case for some strong candidates - Angela Spindler, Catriona Marshall, Mary Portas - they still wouldn’t make any difference to the overall conclusion that women are scandalously under-represented at the highest levels of the industry.Considering what a big proportion of people who work in the sector are women, that’s particularly bad

Any thoughts on people we’ve already omitted this year - John Lovering is one who’s been mentioned already - much appreciated.