Marc Bolland


Last ranked: 13

Bolland is still struggling to lift clothing sales out of a downward spiral, and he’s been plagued by online delivery issues, but after five years, strong new appointments on the womenswear side, a string of star-studded ad campaigns, and strong cashflow due to supplier rationalisation are easing analyst nerves – even if Christmas trade underwhelmed. In the meantime, Bolland’s earlier interventions on the food side – particularly the focus on distinctive and unique brands – are really bearing fruit. Ably led by Steve Rowe (qv), M&S recently announced plans to accelerate the already ambitious rollout of its convenience stores.



Richard Pennycook

Group CEO, The Co-operative Group

Last ranked: NEW

Peter Marks seemed to rule the Co-op like a rod of iron. But arguably Pennycook is more powerful: the first CEO in The Co-operative Group’s 150-year history on the board of directors, following a much-needed overhaul of its corporate governance. With a strong track record at Morrisons and in private equity, Pennycook has already steered The Co-op from the brink of collapse following the discovery of a £2.5bn black hole in its finances. With the disposals (including all but a 20% stake in The Co-operative Bank),  Pennycook is now freed up to ‘rebuild’ the Co-op from the ground up, with food as his primary focus.



Ronald Kers

CEO, Müller Group

Last ranked: 35

ronald kers

Kers completed a meteoric rise to the top job at Müller Group in January 2015, when he took over as CEO from the retiring Heiner Kamps. The Dutchman, who also continues to oversee the Müller UK & Ireland business, presided over the acquisition of Wiseman Dairies and the Minsterley desserts factory in his time at the helm of the UK business, and has delivered a remarkable turnaround in the fortunes of the Müller brand portfolio since joining the company in 2012. In turnover terms, the UK business now represents around a third of the entire Müller group. 

Continued volatility in the milk market saw Müller’s farmgate milk price plummet during 2014, as it cited “record farm milk volumes and weak demand.” The cuts prompted several farmer protests at its Market Drayton plant at the end of the year, but the processor managed to hold its price for February 2015. A proposed £80m acquisition of Dairy Crest’s dairies (subject to approval by competition authorities) would see Müller pick up brands such as Frijj, and the Milk & More doorstep delivery service, which would further strengthen its position as a formidable competitor to Arla during 2015.



Andy Higginson

Chairman, Morrisons

Last ranked: NEW

Higginson was fast-tracked into the chairman’s seat in January and wasted no time flexing his muscles as he showed CEO Dalton Philips the exit. While praising the recent focus on price-cutting, Higginson has indicated that Morrisons needs to be more focused on sorting its supermarkets rather than trying to compete in growth markets such as convenience and online. It’s now in the plain-talking Lancastrian’s powers to appoint a CEO. Until he does so there’s a power vacuum at Morrisons. And it’s a big decision, with some analysts even suggesting the supermarket may be dead and buried.



Chris North

UK CEO, Amazon

Last ranked: NEW

Amazon’s UK growth has slowed and the possibility of launching a full-scale grocery offer remains just that. Nevertheless, it’s already signed up lots of ambient suppliers. It’s also seducing customers with its subscribe and save model, which offers savings to customers who commit to regular purchases of grocery. Though there is still no sign of Amazon trialling AmazonFresh (its fresh grocery delivery service) in the UK, it has widened trials in the US and established a beachhead in Germany. In the meantime, none of the big grocers will be sleeping soundly as they await the latest moves by North.



Rakesh Kapoor

CEO, Reckitt Benckiser

Last ranked: 16

Shares in Reckitt Benckiser have never been higher as Kapoor continues to focus his efforts on consumer brands such as Dettol and Durex following the demerger of the pharma division. However, RB has not been immune to the slowdown in emerging markets – which has also hit rivals Unilever, Diageo and PZ Cussons – with full-year growth to come in at the lower end of the range. And a fine of £540k in January from the Financial Conduct Authority for delayed disclosure of share deals by two senior executives [one of which is understood to be Kapoor himself] has also taken some of the shine off the company’s image.



Martin Glenn

CEO, United Biscuits

Last ranked: 21

martin glenn

Glenn is not one to shy away from big decisions. He pulled out of an Aldi supply contract (“It’s a fool’s errand to supply a product that is effectively cannibalising sales from the brand”) and scrapped a previously introduced healthier recipe for Digestives that cost the previous management £10m to develop. Bringing all sweet lines under the McVitie’s masterbrand, and savoury lines under Jacob’s, Glenn also backed both with serious marketing spend.Convenience sales have been a key focus for Glenn, introducing a dedicated direct 60-strong sales force, new pack sizes and new price points to capitalise on the c-store boom. These moves brought £18m growth in the brand – in a biscuit market down £57m overall. He’s also made some shrewd investments to grow his international reach.  In short, Glenn has been swift, decisive and bold, and transformed the fortunes of United Biscuits in barely 18 months, achieving not only a successful exit for its private equity owners but huge investment moving forward. If he continues to deliver like this, he should have no trouble keeping new owner Yildiz, which splashed out £2bn for UB, sweeet.



Jason Tarry

UK and group head of commercial, Tesco

Last ranked: NEW

Some labelled him a fish out of water after his promotion in December, but Tarry’s appointment was “inspired,” say industry veterans who know him. 

“He is a top bloke with good experience in Tesco and the grocery business,” says one supplier. “Those who dismiss him as not having a food background haven’t done their homework.” 

It won’t be easy replacing John Scouler, but F&F boss Tarry has 25 years under his belt at Tesco in food and nonfood roles, and while trying to build bridges with suppliers he is also leading a complete rethink and rationalisation of Tesco’s offer.



Ivan Menezes

CEO, Diageo

Last ranked: 38

If the Power List were only based on market caps, the boss of Diageo would feature far higher on this list. But having replaced Paul Walsh as CEO, Menezes is looking like the fall guy: the plummeting rouble and faltering consumer confidence in Russia have added to a decline in whisky sales in China and other emerging markets, with pre-tax profits tumbling 23% to £1.6bn. Closer to home, Western Europe is also proving challenging as successful innovation and the continued growth of Smirnoff is offset by poor Guinness sales. There’s even talk the black stuff will be sold off. And Diageo is also under fire over late payments.



Alan Clark

CEO, SAB Miller

Last ranked: 25

Peroni – SAB Miller’s biggest beer in the UK – continues to grow at an incredible lick, while commanding by far the highest price of the top 10 lagers. 

The world’s largest brewer is also a force to be reckoned with in several global markets, notably in Southern Africa. But having inherited command from the late Graham Mackay, Clark is under enormous pressure from a rampant AB InBev. 

Clark’s overtures to number-three brewer Heineken were widely seen as an attempt to shake off its larger rival. With Heineken spurning its advances last September, could SAB soon be gobbled up?


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