Beth Butterwick has enjoyed a wonderful and varied career in Retail for over 26 years. Having completed a Fashion & Marketing Degree, she joined Marks & Spencer on their Graduate Training Scheme, where she spent 16 years in the Clothing Division. She joined Gap Inc in 2005 as part of the Senior Management Team responsible for delivering the European Expansion Programme. In 2009 she joined MS Mode BV, part of KKR’s Maxeda Group and based in Amsterdam as Commercial Director, playing a key part in its performance improvement prior to its acquisition by Excellent Retail Brands. In 2011 she returned to the UK to take up a role at Bonmarché, the result of which was a successful sale process to Sun Europe LLP private equity. During her 5 years there as CEO, she steered the company through a massive turnaround, including a successful stock market flotation on AIM Listing in November 2013. In September 2016 Beth joined Karen Millen a Global fashion retailer with 400 shops in 65 countries. Owned by Kaupthing bank, she took the business through a turnaround programme, which resulted in a successful sale of KM & Coast to Boohoo in 2019. In 2019 she joined Jigsaw as an Operating Partner advising the major shareholder where she has overseen a significant ‘digital first’ modernisation programme. In 2021 Beth was appointed Jigsaw CEO to continue acceleration their exciting 3 Year Global Plan.
In recognition of Beth’s services to the retail industry, she was awarded the Draper’s 2015 Retail Personality of the Year. That same year she was made Barclay’s Businesswoman of the Year in recognition of her dedication and services to Bonmarché a Yorkshire-based business. In November 2017 Beth was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Huddersfield for her services in Retail.
Put simply ‘all things retail’ is her passion!
1. What values are most important to you as a leader?
Great leaders put brand purpose and customers first, to bring unique experiences and create lasting memories. As companies strive to bring competitive advantage in a world obsessed with digitization, top leaders need to live up to a more ambitious purpose. They need to create personalised experiences for their customers and own workforces, too. This is driving a fundamental change in how we and our executive teams can inspire, lead, nurture, and measure. The future remains uncertain, so leaders today need to have a range of skills; visionaries, tech-savviness, excellence executors and ambassadors of values and behaviours. Such are the pace of developments in our industry, I see myself as a perpetual student, someone who has a curiosity for the new, which I believe means I can shed past belief systems and continue to forge forward, always defining new and bolder value propositions, to create an exciting culture where success is celebrated.
2. Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
Certainly, my parents have been my constant North Star; my father went from post room to CEO, then Chair, through sheer grit and determination. They have always encouraged me to pursue my passion (fashion, from an early age) and apply commercial rigour, in equal measures. Over the course of my wonderful 30-year career, I have worked with various stimulating industry figures. Perhaps three that stand out as having inspired me are: Kim Winser, a trailblazer boss at the start of my career and the first female M&S Director; Tony DeNunzio, our Maxeda BV Chair, an incredibly motivating leader who guided huge teams across a group of 5 businesses to successful sale outcomes; Tim Mason, my Bonmarché Chair, a fantastic mentor as I navigated a successful IPO and developed new skills as the leader of an AIM listed company.
3. Best piece of advice you have been given?
Growing a business is simple! Stay focused on your real customers, be razor clear about your USPs, focus on the top 5 game-changing strategic leavers and be ruthless at saying ‘no’ to anything that doesn’t add value.
4. What would you tell your younger self?
1, Find your passion and believe in yourself. 2, Take risks and say yes to unusual opportunities; often these openings lead to unexpected successes and considerable personal-growth periods. 3, Build a mentor network where you can ask for help or advice; you don’t have to navigate your journey alone.
5. What has been your most important or profound lesson as a leader?
Developing the confidence to be my authentic self; whilst I’m certainly not perfect, experiences have given me a moral compass and when necessary, provided me with the ability to assess difficult situations, apply calmness around me, and in extreme circumstances, the strength to exit environments that I know intuitively, are wrong.