Champions of the retail world honoured at Specsavers Everywoman In Retail Awards

The winners, representing the extraordinary talent in a sector bursting with female flair, were celebrated alongside leading luminaries from the retail industry including Dame Mary Perkins, Karren Brady, and everywoman founders, Karen Gill MBE and Maxine Benson MBE.

Now in their fifth year, the Awards recognise the achievements of the women charting change and leading the way in the retail industry, whether as entrepreneurs and business owners or executives within larger organisations. Founded to celebrate the talented women excelling in their careers in retail, the Specsavers everywoman in Retail Awards have attracted widespread support from within the sector.

The Awards celebrate the industry’s role models in order to show future generations the diversity and opportunities offered by a career in retail to encourage more women to see it as a sector where they can reach the top. Ultimately, the programme aims to raise awareness of retail as a profession that is proactively addressing the gender imbalance at senior levels and is embracing female talent.

The winners are:

Woman of the Year – Sponsored by Specsavers
Judith McKenna, Chief Operating Officer, Asda Stores Ltd

Star of the Future Category – in a business with a turnover under £200 million – Sponsored by court & spark consulting
Alyssa Smith, Founder, Director and Jewellery Designer Maker, Alyssa Smith Jewellery Limited

Star of the Future Category – in a business with a turnover over £200 million – Sponsored by Pentland Group Plc
Hayley Hartwell, Womenswear Buyer, George – Asda

Leader of the Year Award– in a business with a turnover under £200 million – Sponsored by Penna
Jo Davies, Founder and Managing Director, Black White Denim

Leader of the Year Category – in a business with a turnover over £200 million – Sponsored by Alexander Mann Solutions
Claire Barron, Customer Experience Manager, Vodafone UK

Innovator of the Year Category – Sponsored by Cisco
Fiona Lambert, George Brand Director, George

Entrepreneur of the Year Category – Sponsored by Asda Stores Ltd
Geraldine Hurd, Company Director, Betty and Belle Ltd

Online Retailer of the Year Category – Sponsored by eBay Ltd
Melissa Littler, Marketing and PR Director,

Maxine Benson MBE, co-founder of everywoman, says of the Awards: “If we ever needed proof of the extraordinary female talent within the retail sector, it is here at this event. What an amazing group of women they are, showing just what can be achieved with passion and determination. From jewellery and fashion to food and technology, retail is a sector that offers broad opportunities. The influence of women such as these winners ensures we will encourage and inspire future generations and therefore, guarantee a more diverse workforce in the future.”

Dame Mary Perkins, founder of Specsavers added: “There are some excellent opportunities for women in the retail industry. Although there are not as many women in senior positions as there should be, there are many good prospects. At Specsavers, many of our stores are owned by female opticians who recognise the importance of excellent customer service and high retail standards. I congratulate all the winners in this year’s awards – to come this far shows commitment, resourcefulness and true retail flair – each is a shining example to all women in business.”


Paul Jones

Business Matters Editor


Business Matters Editor