Retail Lunch 22 – The perfect storm

Date: Tuesday 26th April 2022
Time: 12:00 PM - 03:00 PM
Location: Clayton Hotel Manchester City Centre, 55 Portland Street, Manchester, M1 3HP
Cost: £45+VAT Member/ £60+VAT Non Member
Key Events
Retail and Ecommerce
SME Club

After an extraordinary 20+ months for all, the retail sector, in particular, has had to face some extremely difficult challenges. Brexit followed shortly by the global pandemic created the perfect storm, making ordinary business operations almost impossible for some businesses. Join us for our annual retail lunch where we will be addressing some of the issues of the past 20 months. We will be reflecting on the Christmas period just past and how retail businesses are managing challenges such as supply change issues, labour shortages and much more.

Sponsorship opportunities are available from just £1500 +VAT. Please email [email protected] for further information, or download our sponsorship brochure here.

What's in store?

12.00 – 12.30 – Drinks reception

12.30 - 12.35 - Welcome

12.35 – 13.15 –Panel - Footfall and Changing customer demands / The Consumers Market

As we all know the global pandemic vastly accelerated the pace of change and forced consumers to adopt new ways of shopping. This panel will explore what the changes in consumer trends look like and what impact this will have on business and the sector. Following two key trading periods, Black Friday and the festive season in the wake of the pandemic our panel of experts will explore what the future looks like for the sector and what does it all mean with regards to our high streets and our stores and the continued dominance of e-commerce and online retail.

13.15 – 14.15 - Lunch

14.15 – 14.55 –Panel - Sustainability and the Future of Retail Supply Chains 

Due to events of the past 20 + months we are all in a period of transition but none more so than the retail sector having felt the crippling impact of not just the pandemic but the exit from the EU just a few short months before. Well documented supply chain issues, skills shortages and changes in consumer behavior are all forcing retailers to adopt new back-office operations to ensure the survival and sustainability of their businesses. This panel will explore how retail businesses are adapting, what new innovations are being adopted and what does it all mean for the future of the sector.

14.55 - 15.00 – Close



About the Speakers:

Lauren Somers Chartered UK Trade Mark And Designs Attorney - HGF Limited

Lauren Somers is a UK Chartered Trade Mark and Designs Attorney. She helps businesses from multinationals to start-ups to identify, protect and enforce their intellectual property rights. Lauren is co-chair of the pro-manchester Retail & E-commence committee and has particular experience and expertise advising retailers.

David Allinson Centre Director at Manchester Arndale - CBRE

David is currently Centre Director at Manchester Arndale, a position he has held for 10 years. He is also Chair of CityCo, the management company that represents over 1000 city centre businesses.

His career started in London, working for Bass and involved running bars, hotels and restaurants in the City of London before a move into the aviation sector with BAA at Gatwick, and as part of the development team for Heathrow’s Terminal 5.

The move North was brought about by taking up the position of Head of Commercial Development at Manchester Airports Group, which was responsible from all income from retail and car parks right through to the refuelling of aircraft.

The shopping centre sector move came in 2006 taking up the role of General Manager with Lend Lease for the redevelopment of the Golden Square shopping centre in Warrington, before moving down the M56 to Manchester Arndale.


Dr Amna Khan Senior Lecturer, Manchester Metropolitan University Business School - Manchester Metropolitan University

Amna is a Senior Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School. Amna contributes to the academic discipline of consumer behaviour and retailing, she teaches on undergraduate, postgraduate and commercial retail apprenticeship programs, and regularly publishes her work in leading academic journals.

Amna is an invited keynote speaker at international conferences and a panellist for corporate events.  She  conveys complex idea with simplicity that engage and inspire audiences. She uses her unique consumer and retailing knowledge to contribute to international, national and regional media outlets, and has provided comment for BBC, ITV, Channel 5, BBC Radio and The Conversation. She has featured on Channel 5 retailing documentaries on Supermarkets and leading retail brands, such as, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Aldi, Lidl, Marks and Spencer. She present her insights on high-street and retailing issues through blog-posts and podcasts. She is an invited keynote speaker.

Linked in –

Danny Simpson pro-manchester Chair. CEO - MID Communications

Danny Simpson is the CEO of MID Communications & Founder of the MID Group, the largest multi award winning O2 Franchise in the Northwest, providing both B2B and B2C services across 16 retail stores throughout the Northwest and a business centre based in Rochdale.

Danny started his career back when GPRS was the only form of mobile internet and he also experienced the launch and impact of both 3G and 4G. He has also witnessed the release of the first ever iPhone in the telco marketplace along with many other tech gadgets like wearables, smart tech, innovative apps and especially tablets. Danny has seen how each of these have cannibalised the market in laptops to how the digital landscape has changed and works in our world as it is today.

He has the queens award for voluntary service, is a trustee for Hits Radio Cash for Kids Manchester, Non-Exec & Trustee for Cash For Kids UK, Non-Exec Director & Trustee for Kingfisher Learning Trust.

Personal Values –

  1. Be kind and courteous
  2. Have good strong manors, they cost nothing.
  3. Work Hard / Work Ethic

Professional Values

  1. Pride – Have it and show it.
  2. Passion – Have it and show it
  3. Persistence – if its worth doing do it
Jennifer Smith Partner - Forbes Solicitors

Jennifer is a Partner with considerable experience and expertise, encompassing both contentious and non-contentious work, spanning the lifetime of the employment relationship. With extensive advocacy experience in the Tribunals, Jennifer has developed a strong reputation as a litigator and tactician. Jennifer was included in the Legal 500 in 2018, 2019, 2020 and most recently in 2021, listing Jennifer as a “Next Generation Partner” and referring to her as a “name to note”. The publication has described Jennifer as “very thorough and totally committed to her clients”.

Jennifer has particular expertise in the recruitment industry, as well as the charity, hospitality and digital and ecommerce sectors. Clients recognise Jennifer’s excellent legal skillset and commitment to them and consistently return to her for advice. Jennifer’s personal approach, commercial awareness and excellent client care skills have previously resulted in awards, including Jennifer winning the Business Insider Lawyer of the Year. Jennifer regularly hosts webinars and training events and frequently appears in print media, as an expert in the field of employment law.

Martin Merryweather Client Services Lead - Slalom

Martin is Slalom’s Retail lead in Manchester, with 20+ years experience in management consultancy, strategy, business transformation and audit across a number of sectors. Previously he was Strategy Director at British Cycling.

Passionate about Retail (and Sport!), he is currently working with a number of North West based Retailers where he and the Slalom team are combining expertise founded in data, analytics and IT transformation to help businesses unlock value.

Martin’s key focus is client service; his purpose is to help identify and deliver opportunities to help Retail clients better engage with customers and suppliers. He believes in empowering the employees of an organisation to enable growth and make a positive impact on the communities we live and work in

Vaughan Allen Chief Executive - CityCo

Vaughan Allen is the Chief Exec of CityCo, the city centre management company for Manchester, England.

CityCo is a membership organization, representing over a thousand businesses across the property, retail, hospitality and the cultural sectors. It also runs the city’s only Business Improvement District which focuses on delivering major events and marketing campaigns for the city.

The company supports its members operationally and with frequent advice. In the past few years it has run numerous campaigns around such issues as rough sleeping and homelessness, terrorism, crime and the future of the city centre. Following city centre riots in 2011, the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017 and now the covid-19 lockdown, it offers expertise in resilience and building back better after traumatic events.

Before running CityCo, Vaughan was a journalist and leader in the cultural field.

Caroline Jackson Owner/Manager - LWF Group Ltd

Caroline Jackson is the owner and manager of the LWF Group Ltd, an e-commerce company with various e-commerce verticals, including Little Women the last remaining retailer globally selling a triple A cup bra. With a background as a buyer for various blue chip companies over the last 40 years such as Top Shop (as was) Debenhams, Hornes Menswear, and with roles as a procurement analyst in several sectors, she has a wealth of experience in, and a passion for, retail in all of its many guises.


Sarah Welsh Retail CEO - N Brown

Sarah was appointed CEO of Retail in March 2020. With over 25 years of retail and brand experience on the UK high street, Sarah started her career on the shop floor. With her great passion for product, she quickly developed her skills in buying and has held senior buying roles at both River Island and Miss Selfridge before joining Oasis. Having spent 18 years at Oasis she has been fundamental in shaping the unique customer and product proposition, most recently as Managing Director.

Key strengths

  • Retail
  • Design and product development
  • Sourcing
  • Trading
  • Customer engagement
Adam Warne CIO - River Island

Adam is the CIO at fashion high street brand River Island, with 20+ years IT experience across a number of sectors. Adam has recently moved on from CIO at N Brown & prior to that had an extensive & successful career at

Adam’s a strong believer that innovation is never hampered by a lack of ideas, but rather a lack of detecting the significance and substance of ideas that already exist, therefore he is driven to leverage technology in smart and bold ways to benefit customers.

Interested In The Event?

If you’re interested in attending, you can book online here.

For any further enquires about this event, contact [email protected]