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Speaker Bio's | AIS Conference

Published on 14 Jun, 2023

We are excited to announce a stellar speaker line-up at this year's AIS Conference. From experts in sustainability, ecommerce and digital marketing, to consumer behaviours and trends, the 'Thriving Together in 2023' conference is set to be the best yet. Take a look at the full speaker programme below.

Speaker Programme

Mary Portas | Keynote Speaker

Businesswoman, broadcaster, author and activist, Mary Portas made her name creating change.

Aged 30, she became a board member at Harvey Nichols before founding her creative consultancy Portas. Mary has since worked with some of the biggest names in global retail.

Her BBC series – Mary Queen of Shops – premiered in 2007 and she has presented on television and radio for the BBC and Channel 4 ever since. Mary’s podcast series include Beautiful Misfits and #1 business podcast The Kindness Economy.

In 2009, she partnered with Save The Children to reinvent charity shops. To date, the 26 Mary’s Living & Giving shops nationwide have raised more than £30 million for charity. In 2011, Mary conducted a review of the future for high streets for the British government.

Mary is the author of three books: an autobiography’ Shop Girl’ [ 2015] and two non-fiction books - ‘Work Like A Woman: A Manifesto’ [2018]; and ‘Rebuild: how to thrive in the new Kindness Economy’ [2021].

As co-chair of the Better Business Act, Mary heads a coalition of businesses calling for a change in the law to ensure UK companies align their interests with those of wider society and the environment

Siân Jones | Master of Ceremonies

A charismatic presenter, facilitator and communications coach. Siân is passionate about her work and is a firm believer that everyone can shine in the spotlight. In a career spanning over 20 years, Siân has presented hard news (ITV Morning News, SKY, FIVE, Bloomberg, CNBC, Tech City News) as well as lifestyle programmes (Granada, Daybreak, Overseas Property Channel) across many national and international TV stations.

Sue Kemp | Managing Director & Executive Board Member, AIS

At the helm of AIS, and member of the AIS Board, Sue leads the strategic direction and strives to drive success for the membership. Sue is a prominent retail expert with over 30 years experience at a senior level within customer-centric global businesses including Merlin Entertainments, LEGOLAND and Marks and Spencer. Sue is also a member of the Advisory Board for Diversity in Retail.

Neville Moore | AIS Chair

Neville is the Managing Director of Ulster Stores and has been with the business for 41 years. Ulster Stores is family-owned independent retail group and the parent company of a collection of four independent flagship department stores is a including: Moore’s of Coleraine and The White House in Portrush both located on the North Coast of Northern Ireland; de Gruchy based in St. Helier in Jersey; and Clares of Llandudno in Wales. In November 2022 he was appointed Chair of the AIS Board.

Susan Potter Price | Director of Finance and Executive Board Member, AIS

As an AIS Board member, Susan leads the finance and CENPAC operation for AIS, utilising her wealth of senior financial experience built up across the retail sector, including HMV. Susan is also a non-executive director of Birmingham Bank Ltd.

Jane Ainsworth | Managing Director, WPR Agency

An experienced communications strategist who was named as one of the most influential and respected leaders in the ‘PRWeek UK Power Book 2021’, Jane works across a wide spectrum of industries ranging from retail to hospitality, with client experience spanning the likes of Oxfam, Greene King, John Lewis, Mothercare, Westfield, National Trust and Volvo.

Vinny O’Brien | eCommerce Trainer & eCommerce Consultant, Vinny & Co

Vinny is an eCommerce Consultant at Vinny & Co, a collective of practicing experts who operate across several critical disciplines. He helps companies design and execute their global eCommerce omni-channel strategies. His experience is in growing businesses operationally and functionally to deliver sustainable growth as part of overall eCommerce strategies. He has worked in various verticals including automotive, fashion, hard goods and home.

Abi Edmunds | Director, Domino Style Independent Fashion Retailer

Domino Style is an independent fashion retailer located in Stratford Upon Avon & Leamington Spa that specialises in global unique brands brought to you with a five star boutique service. Domino Style has been trading as ‘Domino’ since 1978 as a ladieswear boutique. Abigail Edmunds, the now director, worked within the same family run company for 13 years before taking over the fashion reigns in 2017. At that point Domino Style was launched online where it has grown from strength to strength. In 2022 Domino opened a new store in the fabulous town of Leamington Spa.

Phil Pond | Director Consumer Behaviour Insights & Trends, Scarlet Opus

A ‘say it as it is’ person, Phil is the grounding force behind the Scarlet Opus team. He likes to keep things real, whilst at the same time championing our biggest and boldest ideas. Passionate about encouraging young entrepreneurs, for the past 12 years he’s acted as a mentor to both under and postgraduates at Lancaster University and The University of Central Lancashire, sitting on judging panels for entrepreneurial, product design, and sales award events and projects.

Jane Kellock | Founder & Creative Director, Unique Style Platform (USP)

Founder and creative director Jane Kellock started her career as a womenswear designer, working for UK high street retailers such as Topshop and has a broad knowledge of retail, range-building and the importance of understanding the consumer. Her love of forecasting and a desire to innovate and inspire, led her to senior roles at WGSN and Stylus. Jane is a member of The British Colour Group and has gained an international reputation as a colour and trends expert working with global designers, brands and retailers. Jane is a creative thinker with the ability to translate big ideas into commercial solutions.

Guy Brazier | HR Director, AIS

Guy overseas the people strategy for the organisation including supporting the independent sector in attracting and retaining a diverse and inclusive talent pool. Guy is a Chartered Fellow of CIPD and has led HR teams for over 20 years including Warwick Castle, Alton Towers, Madame Tussauds and LEGOLAND.

Claire Hamlin | Director of Social Impact & Purpose

Claire Hamlin is part of the leadership team at Q5 having over 25 years’ experience both as a consultant and in senior HR roles across leadership development, talent strategy, organisational culture and purpose transformation. More recently Claire has taken on the role of Director of Purpose & Social Impact and looks at how organisations need to evolve to be ‘future-ready’ with a particular emphasis on purpose-driven organisations, social impact & systemic change, sustainability transformation and future of work.

Liz Lawson | Managing Director, Lawsons

Liz Lawson, is managing director of the family run south-west housewares chain Lawsons, and is a non-executive AIS board member. In the last twenty years, Lawson’s has expanded significantly, to include trading online as well as expanding its stores and product categories. Her priority is the cultivation and retention of customer loyalty, both online and in stores and believes sustainability should be a key focus for independent retailers, and has created ‘Lawson’s sustainability promise’.

Jeremy Schwartz | Sustainability Expert Leadership

As an expert speaker on sustainability and high performance leadership, Jeremy has been a CEO of global consumer brands & ecom focussed retailers. He has led a number of business transformations and has been Marketing Director of consumer brands both nationally and internationally – including the likes of Pandora, L’Oreal UK, The Body Shop, Coca-Cola, Sainsbury’s. In 2022 he sat as Chair of Kantar’s Sustainability Practice.

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