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Will Hobhouse speaker

Will Hobhouse

Watford, UK

30 years' experience leading fast growth retail and digital businesses

Former Chair and CEO, Heals (2012-2017)

Whittard of Chelsea (1988-2002)

Will Hobhouse has gained a formidable reputation developing famous brands, from speciality retail such as Heals, Jack Wills, Tie Rack and Whittard of Chelsea to food emporia such as Le Pain Quotidien.

Will is currently an investor and Chair in fast growing consumer and digital businesses such as Sunspel, Classlist, Rapanui. From 2012 to 2017, he was 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 was previously Chair at Cornerstone, Le Pain Quotidien, Jack Wills, Ryness, Le Pain Quotidien 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 on 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.

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”. He speaks with authority on innovation, effectiveness and management."

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