Home » Retail 100 2024: Three vital lessons from the UK’s top c-suite leaders

Retail 100 2024: Three vital lessons from the UK’s top c-suite leaders

1. Innovation is crucial to winning market share  

Retail never stands still and this year the Retail 100 recognises 10 Disruptors – up from six in 2023 – each of which has a unique proposition that is winning over customers and is a case study as to how to innovate in a competitive market. 

Take for instance, Castore founding brothers the Beahons, Refy founders Jess Hunt and Jenna Meek, and Trinny London creator Trinny Woodall, who are all respectively shaking up athleisure, home accessories and beauty in their own ways with cult-like followings to boot. 

All three businesses were launched in the past nine years – Refy just four years ago – and are collectively generating more than £124m per annum. 

Three Retail 100 disruptors

Refy Instagram screenshot

Castore

  • Founded: 2015
  • Revenue: Over £50m
  • Instagram followers: 226,000
  • TikTok likes: 86,0000
  • Funding: £145m

Trinny London

  • Founded: 2017
  • Revenue: Over £50m
  • Instagram followers: 1.4 million
  • TikTok likes: 508,400
  • Funding: £189m

Refy

  • Founded: 2020
  • Revenue: £24m+
  • Instagram followers: 730,0000
  • TikTok likes: 2.5 million
  • Funding: 0 – self-funded

Data correct as of May 1, 2024 

2. CX and innovation key to success 

Alex Gourlay - Holland & Barrett

CX is often lauded as the holy grail of retail and for good reason. More than a fifth of the Retail 100 this year have been celebrated as Experience Innovators for their work reigniting the thrill of shopping – be that online, in store or both through savvy investments in tech, new formats and customer engagement tools. 

Holland & Barrett chair Alex Gourlay makes his debut having overseen a revitalised focus on CX with new in-store concessions, additional product ranges and categories, and a customer-facing app to help support wellness goals. 

Elsewhere in the digital space, Charlotte Tilbury Beauty’s chief executive Demetra Pinsent has made an inaugural appearance, having led the beauty brand in the launch of its AI-powered app last June. 

Store shake-ups are also clear to see – the strategy of Fortnum & Mason’s Tom Athron, for instance, highlights the value of making stores more experiential. 

3. Sustainability remains top of the agenda 

Adam Jay - Vinted

When times are tough, it can be all too easy for industry leadership to focus on profits over purpose, yet the line-up of the Retail 100 is proof that sustainability has not fallen off the priority list. 

With 10 Sustainability Activists featured, equal to 2023, the idea that a greener business is better holds strong.

The new addition of B Labs UK boss Chris Turner, at the helm of the organisation that grants the much-coveted B Corp status, is indicative of the shift in the sector to bolster eco credentials. 

Likewise, the success of Adam Jay with Vinted, achieving profitability for the first time this year, and eBay under Eve Williams, breaking down barriers by removing fees for pre-loved goods, demonstrate how shoppers’ attitudes and spending preferences are changing. Sustainable fashion has moved to the mainstream. 

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You’ve learned some of the lessons from the Retail 100 and now it’s time to meet them. Access your free copy of the report to read strategic profiles of each leader and discover:

  • How the Retail 100 are setting benchmarks for others to follow  
  • Fresh faces that need to be on your radar – from new leaders of JLP and Morrisons to transformative bosses of Mamas & Papas and Urban Outfitters 
  • People Champions, Experience Innovators, Sustainability Activists and Disruptors shaping retail’s future  
  • The inspiring ‘ones to watch’ for 2025