Heston Blumenthal, internationally-acclaimed Michelin-starred chef
A true superstar from the world of food, internationally-acclaimed Michelin-starred chef Heston Blumenthal has been described as a culinary alchemist for his innovative style of cuisine. His Berkshire restaurant, The Fat Duck, has three Michelin stars, and his latest venture, Dinner By Heston Blumenthal at Knightsbridge’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel, is also Michelin-starred. In addition, it has scooped the Observer Food Monthly 2011 Award for Best Restaurant.
Heston Blumenthal was awarded an OBE in 2006.
Roger Morgan-Grenville, managing director, Dexam
Roger Morgan-Grenville spent nine years in the Royal Green Jackets in the 1980s, serving in Northern Ireland, Hong Kong, Kenya, Belize and South Georgia, where he led the first expedition to retrace Shackleton's steps across the island.
He joined Dexam in 1986 as marketing manager, and has been the managing director since 1994. Over this period, Dexam has evolved from being a traditional distributor of European brands into a joint own-brand/distributorship organisation, specialising only in kitchenware and selling right across the retail spectrum. It also has a growing export business.
Dexam concentrates on building strong brands, backed by high levels of service. Roger was one of the co-founders, and the original head fund-raiser of the charity Help for Heroes, and has recently published a book on cricket. He is married with two teenage sons.
Carol Paris, operations director, Garden & Leisure Group
Carol joined Cadbury Garden and Leisure as retail director in 1998, having come from a high street retail background. Her retail career began with Harrods in the 1980s, when she joined the store as a sports professional for the riding department. After completing Harrods’ executive training scheme, she then worked in many different roles within the business.
Carol’s move to Cadbury coincided with the beginning of the Garden and Leisure development, which started with the acquisition of Endsleigh Garden Centre in Devon. This was followed by acquisition of Huntingdon, Barnett Hill, Percy Thrower’s, Melbicks and then Gardenlands. The majority of the centres have now been rebuilt and developed into contemporary specialist retailers focusing on quality plants and gardening products. In addition the centres retail a considerable product range that covers craft and hobby, clothing, pet and aquatic, giftware and food, and all centres have restaurants. Recent developments include introducing a Starbucks coffee concept and a new farm and deli food offer.
Carol became retail director for the group in 2001 and then operations director in 2003. She is responsible for buying, operations and HR for the group.
She is also the president of the Horticultural Trades Association and sits on the board of the Horticultural Development Company, which is responsible for research and development in horticulture.
David Eggison, managing director, colanderscookshop.co.uk
David Eggison has been in the housewares industry for over 30 years, beginning his career with the John Lewis Partnership and then going on to hold senior positions with Pimpernel International and Denby Pottery.
In 1995, David started his own business, Colanders, a specialist retail cookshop, and went on to have five further shops throughout Hertfordshire and at Royal Worcester in Worcester. He has also had a standalone WMF shop, set up in conjunction with the German-owned company.
David was at the time one of the first independents to set up his own ecommerce cookware shop, which has significantly expanded over the last few years and now accounts for over 80% of company sales. With this change in the business dynamic for Colanders, David has opted to close a number of his stores to focus on this now very successful online business.
Colanders currently occupies a 5,000sq ft warehouse employing 20 people who focus on Colanders’ website and other related Colanders sites such as on eBay and Amazon.
The original Hitchin store, however, remains and has recently expanded to now cover approximately 3,500sq ft of retail floor space, whilst acting as a secondary warehouse for the web business.
In addition to Colanders, David is part owner of cookware and kitchenware supplier Hahn, which he bought with a colleague in 2006.
When not working, David is a very keen skier and cook and enjoys spending time with his family. He is married and has a five-year-old daughter.
Gary Gordon, joint director, Kitchen Kapers
The Kitchen Kapers cookshop chain celebrates its 33rd birthday the week after the conference. In previous lives both Gary and his wife Caroline, also a joint director in the company, were buyers at House of Fraser, and met at Barkers of Kensington, where they were both based.
Kitchen Kapers is a multi-channel business. Apart from the five branches, in Camberley, Farnham and Woking in Surrey, Basingstoke in Hampshire and Windsor in Berkshire, it has for many years dealt with mail order, and also has a long-established e-commerce website, which is currently being completely replaced with a new one. Behind the retail exterior, it has for over two decades imported specialist cookshop products from several well-known European suppliers, which they represent for our industry in the UK.
Kitchen Kapers has used the import side of the business to often bring in products not available readily in British cookshops, giving a strong point of difference to the stock selection, to increase the interest of customers.
Gary was one of the joint founders of the Cookshop and Housewares Association, which he chaired for over four years. Caroline later spent three years in the CHA chair. In 2004 Gary became president of the BHF, now called BIRA after its merger with the BSSA Group, and Caroline becomes its president in April 2012.
Caroline and Gary have two grown-up daughters. The eldest is a political researcher and is married, and the younger daughter is a chef at a five-star hotel.
Sam Kelly, TSR director, Retailer Services, GfK Retail & Technology UK
With 15 years' experience, Sam is committed to delivering a premium service to GfK partners. She has worked with many of the UK's top retailers and world's leading manufacturers. Currently, Sam is responsible for researching and developing industry sectors such as Home and DIY.
Her key focus areas are delivery of excellence in terms of service, ensuring GfK's partners' strategic requirements are fulfilled.
Pam Plant, conference chair
Pam Plant has been working in the housewares industry in the UK for over 25 years.
Her first role in this sector was with Probus, which at that time was one of the UK's largest manufacturers of kitchen utensils and textiles. She went on, with three colleagues from Probus, to form the Housewares Business Centre (HBC) which grew to be the premier marketing and market research company in the UK home sector. HBC became the first International Housewares Association International Office in the early 1990s, and its clients included some of the UK’s leading housewares companies, including suppliers and retailers.
In 2000, Pam became the first housewares director at the British Home Enhancement Trade Association, and during her time there she launched Exclusively Housewares – now one of the leading UK housewares exhibitions.
She then became Emap’s development director for home for Birmingham’s International Spring and Autumn Fair. Throughout Pam’s time at BHETA and with Emap, she continued to represent the IHA, which is the organiser of the Chicago International Home and Housewares Show.
Pam is married with three children and five grandchildren.