Name: Katie Bickerstaffe
Was: MD for Kwik Save
Now: CEO UK & Ireland for Dixons Retail
Career background: A graduate of the Unilever management training scheme, Bickerstaffe’s early career included stints at PepsiCo and Dyson. However, in grocery she is best known for her time at Somerfield. Joining in September 2001, she was promoted to group HR director in October 2002. She was named head of business in February 2004, and then group retail director and head of retail operations of Kwik Save in October that year. In February 2006 she was named MD of Kwik Save, but left when the chain was sold to new owners. She resurfaced at Dixons Retail in June 2008 as group people, marketing and property director.
What is she doing now? Last month, Bickerstaffe was promoted to the new role of CEO of UK & Ireland at Dixons and also joined the group board. Dixons says that during her time with the company she has delivered the turnaround of its UK business, taking responsibility for its store portfolio strategy, marketing, customer relationship management, HR and e-commerce operations. “Katie, with Sebastian [James, group CEO], has transformed our business in the UK into a truly customer focused operation and I welcome her to the board,” chairman John Allan said last month.
Biggest achievement in grocery? Bickerstaffe turned many heads in the sector during her meteoric rise up the ranks at Somerfield. She was known for her energetic and informal management style and has been described by her contemporaries as “decisive and direct”.
What does the future hold? With her very recent promotion, Bickerstaffe has her feet firmly under the table at Dixons, so there is unlikely to be a move back to grocery for some time yet.