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Will Hobhouse speaker

Will Hobhouse

Watford, UK

30 years' experience leading top retail businesses

Chair and CEO, Heals (2012-present)

Former Chair and CEO, Whittard of Chelsea (1988-2002)

As a retailer, Will Hobhouse has gained a formidable reputation developing famous brands, from chic restaurants and food emporia such as Le Pain Quotidien to the cut and thrust of high street franchises.

Will is currently Chair and CEO at Heals Furniture, one of London’s leading department stores with a long and illustrious history of championing good design and craftsmanship. He also Chairs Sunspel and Rapanui. He was previously Chair at Villandry, Le Pain Quotidien Jack Wills, Ryness and Explore Learning. He has bought equity stakes in each business and works with the management team to build and grow the concept.

From 1988, as CEO, he built up Whittard of Chelsea and eventually floated it. Starting with three shops, Will raised finance and built the company into a chain of over 100 shops. Whittard was floated on the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange in July 1996 and moved to the Official List of the London Stock Exchange in September 1997.

Prior to joining Whittard, Will was CEO at Tie Rack Plc. He joined the business when there were 15 shops, opened 150 shops in eight countries and floated on the main board of the Stock Exchange in June 1987. Before joining Tie Rack Plc, Will was at Argyll Group Plc and Associated British Foods Plc.

Will is an Ambassador at the Woodland Trust where he was previously a Trustee.  He was formerly Chair of Trustees of the inspirational Greenhouse Schools Project, a charity that uses sports and arts programmes to teach 11-16 year olds life and social skills. In addition he has previously been a Director on Commercial Boards at Kew Gardens, The British Museum and Cancer Research UK.

Our Comment

"Retail is no longer bound by territory – it is global, and e-commerce is placing this market at your fingertips. With a colourful entrepreneurial history, Will is uniquely place to comment on how to succeed in this latest retail landscape. He believes the brands that will thrive in the future will have an excellent online presence, but more importantly their shops will “add value, in experience or learning, or even just fun.”"

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