Janet McCollum

CEO, Moy Park 

Last ranked: NEW

Moy Park’s CEO is the first woman to head Northern Ireland’s biggest company, and oversaw a successful World Cup campaign (tied in with the sponsorship deal of Moy’s Brazilian parent, Marfrig) in 2014 that boosted its profile on the global stage. 

And continued strong demand for locally sourced poultry is set to ensure Moy and McCollum’s status as key strategic partners for the UK supermarkets during the year ahead. 

But all eyes are on McCollum as she preps Moy Park for what could be one of UK food and drink’s highest-profile IPOs this year. She’s ready and waiting for the market conditions to be right.



Steve Murrells

CEO retail, The Co-operative Group

Last ranked: 59 

As the wider group lurched from one toe-curling crisis to another over the past 18 months, The Co-operative Group Food boss Murrells has just got on with the job: turning around a business that, while perfectly positioned to tap the convenience trend, has underperformed for years.

Murrells has focused on basics – overhauling store operations, rolling out a new store format, lowering prices, improving range – and built an almost completely new team to execute his plans. 

It’s working: like-for-like sales for the year to 31 December 2014 were up 0.5%, or 3.5% in its core convenience estate.



Christine Tacon 


Last ranked: 78 

Christine Tacon

It’s taken a while, but the Groceries Code Adjudicator finally went on the attack this week, launching an investigation into Tesco that is expected to take up to nine months and could result in a hefty fine for the retailer. 

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for Tacon, starting with her appearance on the recent and now infamous Tesco episode of Panorama, where she explained how she was, effectively, hamstrung by being unable to fine offenders. 

Days later, the government swung into action, appalled not by the treatment meted out to suppliers by Tesco over the years – treatment that led to GSCOP, and the position of GCA, existing in the first place – but the brouhaha over the plight of dairy farmers (one of the few areas where Tesco appears whiter than white, and taking Tacon on to turf over which she has no say). 

Tacon is now set to be granted the power to fine retailers up to 1% of their domestic turnover for serious breaches of the Groceries Supply Code of Practice and, as of Thursday morning, she has Tesco in her sights. As a result she has rocketed up the Power List – and depending on the outcome of her first investigation, next year could see her move higher still. 



Sean Upson

Partner, Stewarts Law

Last ranked: NEW

Stewarts is the largest litigation-only law firm in the UK. And it’s set its sights on Tesco. Stewarts is bringing a lawsuit against the retailer in the wake of the infamous £263m overstatement in its accounts. 

It could be a very costly exercise for Tesco. And it isn’t hanging around, either – it’s intent on bringing its case before a judge inside six months, rather than waiting for the Serious Fraud Office to conclude its inquiry. 

Upson and his team will allege directors and senior management knew or were reckless as to whether Tesco’s statements to the market were untrue or misleading and/or dishonestly concealed its true position.



Tony Reed

CEO, One Stop

Last ranked: 77 

Since March 2011 Reed has transformed One Stop from a ‘Tesco shadow brand’ to a convenience store chain in its own right. Following a series of acquisitions, the chain now boasts more than 700 company-owned stores, which it has been steadily revamping by introducing extended chilled ranges and additional services. Last year, it launched a franchise offer – a move that really shook the independent retail sector. It already has 90 stores and as well as attracting non-affiliated indies, has also taken on some high-profile indie symbol retailers from the likes of Londis and Premier. A Tesco lifer, Reed’s influence spreads beyond One Stop to Cheshunt.



Paul Schaafsma                                     

GM UK & Ireland, Accolade Wines

Last ranked: NEW               

As the boss of the biggest wine company in the UK, Schaafsma is in a powerful position to influence what the UK drinks. 

But he’s also been looking inwards to make sure Accolade doesn’t just get sucked into the promotional vortex, radically shaking up the structure of the company in a “right-sizing” move. 

His actions appear to be paying off. In a category with flat sales and falling volumes, Accolade has been cleaning up, with all three of its major brands – Hardys, Echo Falls and Kumala – seeing healthy growth, a three-year deal signed with Tesco, and the launch of its own online retail service, Hardys 1853 Club.



Roger White                                           

CEO, AG Barr

Last ranked: 17 

By the time the Competition Commission eventually gave the thumbs up to AG Barr’s long-awaited merger with Britvic, the latter had got cold feet, so CEO Roger White never had the chance to lead the soft drinks juggernaut that would have resulted. 

It didn’t totally matter – White declared Barr “stronger, fitter and more ambitious” after announcing a profit increase of 9.6% for 2013. It’s since announced a deal (in September) to bring the all-American juice drink brand Snapple to the UK and this week bought cocktail mixer business Funkin for up to £21m – a move that takes Barr into the more adult alcoholic drinks mixer sector.



Paul Lindley


Last ranked: 31 

Lindley thinks big and brave. After the huge success of Ella’s Kitchen and its £103m sale to Hain Celestial, Lindley is back with Paddy’s Bathroom, a range of toddler-friendly bathroom products, which is launching Stateside first (in 500 Target stores) before going into Tesco in the UK, with other retailers set to follow. 

As well as attractive, colourful packaging, central to the proposition is a socially beneficial agenda. It’s at the heart of everything he does – hence the Drop by Drop campaign, which provides clean water to villages in Rwanda.

Oh, and he’s still running Hain’s global babyfood business. Part-time, obviously.



Ibrahim Najafi


Last ranked: NEW

Najafi is not short of ambition. Within a year of taking the helm of the Yorkshire-based supplier in 2013, the former R&R factory manager has targeted sales of more than €1bn through rapid international expansion (currently revenues are just over €700m a year) and an IPO is understood to be a distinct possibility. 

The maker of ice cream for brands such as Nestlé, Cadbury and Ribena is certainly going about it the right way. Having snapped up Lancashire-based Fredericks Dairies in 2013, a £250m swoop for Australian business Peters Food Group in 2014 cemented its position in yet another global territory.



Ken McMeikan

CEO, Brakes

Last ranked: 75 

McMeikan – and his five-year plan – has lifted foodservice giant Brakes out of debt, boosted total sales and increased pre-tax profits. McMeikan is now rolling out multi-temperature delivery vehicles, and has introduced e-commerce. But most important was the recent acquisition of Fresh Direct, giving Brakes access to next day deliveries nationwide.



Steve Pappas

MD, Costco 

Last ranked: 88 

Previously hampered by property and planning issues, Costco is now fast boosting its UK presence – it opened its 26th UK depot last August and has plans to open a purpose-built DC in Northamptonshire this year. Last summer, it also opened its first UK forecourt selling the UK’s cheapest fuel to members – further forecourts are expected this year.



Hubert Patricot 

European president, CCE

Last ranked: 24

Like it or lump it, Coca-Cola is the anti-hero of the war on sugar, and amid all the negative publicity, sales have been hit. That’s prompted the embattled Patricot and his Atlanta partners to adopt traffic-light labelling in the UK – a decision that was not taken lightly – and to launch lower sugar Coke Life. Patricot now plans to roll it out across all his European territories.



Roger Whiteside

CEO, Greggs

Last ranked: 98 

roger whiteside

When Whiteside took over Greggs in 2013, predecessor Ken McMeikan was seen as a tough act to follow. Clearly, Whiteside didn’t get the memo and quickly set about dismantling much of what McMeikan had been working towards. McMeikan had looked to expand and diversify the high street baker, introducing a popular wholesale arm to supply frozen products to Iceland, as well as trialling new formats, like the posh Greggs Moment outlets, which were the polar opposite of a typical Greggs. However, sales had gone into decline. So, upon his arrival, Whiteside’s approach was to get back to basics and play to Greggs’ strengths. That meant limiting the wholesale arm, axing the experimental formats and reburbishing the tired existing estate rather than build new stores. His reward has been to take a distracted business that had started to struggle and make it strong again, a decisive performance that sends him rocketing up the Power List in 2015.



Christopher Rogers

MD, Costa

Last ranked: NEW

When Whitbread appointed Christopher Rogers as MD in 2012, the assumption was the coffee shop chain would be spun off into a separate IPO, and that now looks likely to happen after Whitbread bought back Life Coffee Cafés. Until then, Costa continues to expand aggressively on high streets, in shopping precincts, through c-store franchises and abroad.



Hans Roelofs

CEO, Refresco Gerber

Last ranked: 65 

Whether it’s a massive takeover bid for Refresco Gerber, or a stock market flotation, rumours around the €2bn soft drink and fruit juice bottler suggest Roelofs will have his hands full over the next 12 months trying to find the right option for the business. Blackstone is just one of a number of private equity suitors said to be weighing up a mega deal. Watch this space.



Peter Gioertz-Carlsen

Executive vice president, Arla Foods UK

Last ranked: NEW

Gioertz-Carlsen succeeded Peter Lauritzen last year. Members of the dairy co-op bore the brunt of a collapse in milk prices during 2014, while job losses were announced in November. On a more positive note, Arla bagged an improved milk contract with Morrisons in January, while Lactofree and Anchor cheese recorded strong sales growth.



Adam Couch

CEO, Cranswick

Last ranked: 66

Couch delivered a perky year for Cranswick in 2014, steering the pork giant to a decent 11.4% uplift in pre-tax profits for the six months to 30 September. Couch also went upmarket with the purchase of Hull-based Benson Park – lauded by analysts as a good diversification move – which saw Cranswick take its first tentative steps into the premium poultry category.



Mark Taylor

UK property director, Aldi 

Last ranked: NEW

Like Lidl’s property man Danny Hazlehurst (qv), his chief rival when it comes to snapping up sites, Taylor has been charged with doubling the size of the Aldi estate, the only difference being he has a target to hit – approximately 500 sites by 2022. It’s a tall order, but with landlords aware Aldi will be a solid tenant for years to come, he may not struggle to achieve it.



Ugo Arizani

Head of consumer and retail, Qatar Investment Authority

Last ranked: NEW

Since a failed takeover bid in 2008, the Qatar Investment Authority has held 26% of Sainsbury’s shares. They haven’t performed well: QIA is down £1.4bn. What next? Well, polar opposite theories persist, that newly appointed Arizani will cut its losses, or launch another bid. Given Sainsbury’s recent financials, it may be more successful.



Mary Barnard 

UK president, Mondelez

Last ranked: NEW

mary barnard

Barnard has a ton of experience marketing power brands after a career working with Hovis, PepsiCo and Walkers, among others. According to Mondelez that made her a “perfect fit” for its newly created Northern Europe division when she started in October, having previously been MD of the Nordics. However, she endured a tricky start, walking into what she describes as a “pivotal time” for the company only for the Cadbury owner to find itself dragged into the growing issue of late payment of suppliers. Barnard has also had to handle some sticky questions from consumers who were upset that Mondelez reformulated its iconic Cadbury Cream Egg, as well as dropping the famous half dozen pack down to just five. But the first woman at the helm of the famous chocolate empire can also point to a £75m investment in its historic Bourneville HQ as a sign of intent, and sales of Cadbury Dairy Milk continue to fly, five years on from the controversial takeover.