Our mentoring scheme ‘sends the elevator back down’ to those aspiring individuals who will benefit from the experience and expertise of mentors in their given field. 

Elevator mentors Don McCarthy

About the late Don McCarthy CBE 

Don McCarthy CBE (19 June 1955 – 21 July 2018) was a British businessman who made his reputation in footwear retailing, first with Kurt Geiger, then with the Shoe Studio Group. Latterly he moved into general fashion retailing after acquiring the Rubicon Retail fashion business in 2005. From late 2006 to mid-2014 he was Executive Chairman of the House of Fraser department store group. 

Don was an active investor in retail businesses through his own fund, No 9 Investments Ltd. Privately he was a generous donor to charities, a great philanthropist and proud ambassador of the Retail Trust. 

He was well known for his mantra: 

“When you get to the top of your career, send the elevator back down for someone else.” 

In Don’s memory, we are managing the elevator mentoring programme to help individuals progress their retail careers. 


Our mentors

Claudia Battistel

Claudia Battistel

Currently (Consultant) Merchandise Trading Director at Wehkamp in the Netherlands, Claudia has worked within buying and merchandising for a number of major retail businesses including House of Fraser (2005-2016), where most latterly she was the Buying Director for womenswear. Prior to this, she held buying and commercial roles at Benetton Group (UK and International) and Moss Bros plc.

Following her tenure at House of Fraser, Claudia was the Business Development Director for FashionTrade, a disruptive fashion technology start-up, which was a joint venture between Anders Holch Polvsen (Bestseller Group) and Zalando.

Her experience spans across omnichannel retail, start-up, private equity and plc businesses and franchise models across the UK and mainland Europe.

David Butler

David Butler left

David Butler is the Chief Executive Officer at Crew Clothing Company and Saltrock Surfwear. He is responsible for leading the strategic course of both businesses, as well as overseeing day-to-day operations across all functions. He has over 20 years of retail experience, having previously worked in senior roles at international footwear brand ECCO and METRO group.

Transforming companies into profitable business models is David’s forte and since joining Crew Clothing, the business has already announced a substantial increase in profit and further investment in its bricks-and-mortar portfolio.

David is a self-made entrepreneur, starting in-store at BHS in 1999. His journey from salesfloor to CEO has given him end-to-end exposure across every functional area of retail operations. He now lives between London and his hometown, Cheshire.

Graham Ash

Graham Ash right

Graham has over 30 years’ experience in leading commercial functions across the apparel and footwear sector. He started his career as a management trainee in John Lewis before embarking on a career in merchandising and buying which has seen him tackle roles in House of Fraser, Debenhams, Shoe Express, Adams Kids and Tesco.

Most recently, Graham led the UK and Europe regions within Clarks, managing digital, retail and wholesale channels and all support functions covering 16 countries, 800 stores and over 5000 people. Graham led the change at Clarks moving from a UK retailer to an omnichannel operation reflecting the changing habits and needs of today’s savvy customers.

He is a customer first retailer with a broad background and a desire to support individuals wishing to develop their career further.

John Egan

John Egan

John is a passionate, self-made, highly respected CEO and entrepreneur. John has global brand experience across fashion, accessories and footwear. He loves people, brands and making things happen.

John is a Non-Executive Director and shareholder of Dune, and is currently advising a number of businesses including Ted Baker, as well as up-and-coming entrepreneurs.

June Lawlor

June Lawlor

June has over 30 years’ experience in the fashion industry, an accomplished and creative buying director with a natural intuition for product and sharp commercial savvy. She started her career in Topshop and went on in the industry to operate at board level for 20 years, latterly as director of womenswear, accessories and beauty at House of Fraser.

In 2010 she established June Lawlor Associates Ltd consulting to predominantly high end retailers and brands within her large international network. She is a Non-Executive Director of the Royal Collection Enterprises Ltd. Holds an academic post at UAL and is a Fellow of the RSA.

June is an ardent mentor to growing businesses and young talent. With a high level of personal integrity using her expertise and experience to improve the businesses or individuals she advises.

Keely Stocker

Keely Stocker

Keely is the Marketing and Brand Communications Director at FatFace. Keely was previously the editor of Drapers where she worked for more than 14 years. Keely worked closely with the editorial and commercial teams to build Drapers multichannel strategy and enhance the brand to focus on its core proposition – to provide a competitive advantage to the leaders and future leaders of fashion businesses to help them future-proof their business and do their jobs better.

Keely has written across news, fashion and features with a particular focus on new innovations and developments in the world of multichannel fashion. She can regularly be seen hosting panels at industry events and featuring in national media.

Lawrence Blunt

Lawrence Blunt

Lawrence has more than 40 years’ experience working in the jewellery industry. Lawrence started out in sales and formed his own company Lawrence Blunt Ltd in 1991, supplying most of the main retail groups including Signet Jewelers, the Watches of Switzerland Group, Beaverbrooks, Fraser Hart and many independent retailers throughout the UK.

Last year the company merged with Continental who are one of the world’s largest jewellery manufacturers. Lawrence is a shareholder and Managing Director of the new venture, CJUK.

Liz Evans  

Liz Evans

Liz has over 20 years’ experience in retail and is the CEO of FatFace. A family lifestyle brand, FatFace is an award winning international, omnichannel brand with a strong presence in the UK and a growing US business. 

Liz is passionate about the development of emerging talent within the fashion and retail industry and was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award and Honorary Professorship by Glasgow Caledonian University. Liz is an ambassador for the Retail Week Be Inspired program as well as being a Director on the Princes Trust Trading Board. 

Mark Gifford

Mark Gifford

Mark is Chairman of Artificial Labs (a leading insure-tech business), Non-Executive Director at Radley and Non-Executive Director at No 9 Investments Ltd. 

Mark was CFO at Game Digital during 2015 and 2018 and prior to that CFO at House of Fraser. After qualifying with KPMG Mark worked in various senior finance roles in the travel industry between 1994 and 2002.

Mervyn Metcalf

Mervyn Metcalfe

Mervyn began his career in the City of London in 1994. Since then he has completed over c100 transactions in all fields of investment banking advisory (M&A, equity and debt) across the wider consumer space of retail, media, leisure, online and business services. Mervyn commenced his career at BZW and subsequently joined Merrill Lynch in 1998, where he spent almost 11 years, leaving as a Managing Director.

In 2012, Mervyn co-founded Dean Street Advisers. With a real passion for the advisory business, he cares about creating real and propriety situations for his client base of corporates and private equity alike, as well as providing clear and independent advice. In 2017, Mervyn also co-founded a London based creative group, Slap, focused on working with brands wishing to develop a better understanding of their current customers and target new segments. 

Nick Beighton

Nick Beighton

Nick is a chartered accountant, who qualified at KPMG and has been CEO of ASOS since 2015. He joined the company as Chief Financial Officer in 2009 and took the expanded role of Chief Operating Officer in 2014. Before ASOS, Nick was Head of Finance at Matalan in 1999, later moving into the role of Business Change and IT Director. He joined the Matalan retail board in 2003. In 2005, Nick joined the board of Luminar Entertainment Group as Finance Director, and became a member of the EU e-Commerce Task Force and the Future Fifty Programme Advisory Panel.

Nigel Oddy

Nigel Oddy

Nigel’s career in the retail sector spans 40 years. He has been appointed as Chief Operating Officer of New Look. Most recently he has spent two years as CEO of The Range. Previous to this he spent ten years at House of Fraser where he progressed from Executive Director responsible for Home and Hospitality, to Chief Operating Officer, and finally to Chief Executive. Nigel’s retail career started on the shop floor at Marks and Spencer. He went on to spend 23 years with the company, holding senior positions in retail, buying and merchandising, and sourcing. 

Nigel’s skill base covers all aspects of the retail critical path, from concept to delivery, as well as both online and bricks and mortar. He has worked with factories across the world and has spent an extensive amount of time in the Far East, where he lived for two years.

Sarah Davies

Sarah Davies

Sarah has over 20 years of experience within the fashion retail industry, having held executive buying roles at Arcadia and Marks & Spencer. She started her career at Debenhams in a buying administrative role before progressing to become an established buyer. Sarah is a design driven, creative and commercial buying director who loves product development and thrives on the fast pace of fashion retail buying and merchandising. She is a passionate brand custodian and expert in retail strategy.

Sarah’s most recent challenge saw her move into a broader executive role within a boutique British brand, where she successfully led an accelerated sale of the brand to a private equity group. This experience has enabled Sarah to add broader business expertise to her accomplished buying and merchandising skills.

Stefan Cassar

Stefan Cassar- left

Stefan Cassar has a long and distinguished career within the retail industry as an owner / manager during which time he has jointly owned and operated the following brands, The Shoe Studio Group Ltd, Warehouse and Principles. He was also an investor and Chief Financial Officer at House of Fraser playing an integral role in its public to private acquisition. 

Since qualifying as an accountant with BDO Stoy Hayward in 1990, Stefan has gained extensive operating and commercial experience. His responsibilities at board level have encompassed finance, legal, property, HR, logistics and IT, as well as general operational management. His entrepreneurial approach to business has provided detailed experience of corporate transactions including company acquisitions, leveraged buyouts, disposals, floatations and the associated legal, banking and advisory aspects that accompany such transactions.

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