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Heart of the Community 2021

18th October 2021
One Great George Street, Westminster
11:30am - 6:00pm
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Join over 200 retailers to explore future policy challenges for the sector and what they mean for your business.

This conference will address sustainability for local shops and the emerging politics which will impact stores beyond the pandemic.

The parliamentary reception which follows the conference will present the Raj Aggarwal Award for exceptional community retailing and an opportunity to meet MPs and hear directly from the government in Westminster.  

The finalists for the award are:

  • Nico Ali, Tasa Shops Jarrow
  • Linda & Sophie Williams, Broadway Convenience
  • Julie Kaur Duhra, Premier Jules Convenience

Please note: Due to Covid restrictions the parliamentary reception is limited numbers and we are now oversubscribed. If you are an ACS retailer member you will be placed on a waiting list and will be advised if a space becomes available.

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Event Speakers

Ben Page, Chief Executive, Ipsos MORI

Ben joined MORI in 1987 after graduating from Oxford University and is a frequent writer and speaker on trends, brand perception and leadership management, directing thousands of surveys examining consumer trends and citizen behaviour. Having previously worked with private sector businesses, since 1992 he has worked with Conservative and Labour Ministers for Downing Street, the Cabinet Office, the Home Office and the Department of Health. Ben serves on advisory groups at the Kings Fund and the Social Market Foundation, a Trustee at the Centre for Ageing Better and a patron of Create Streets. He recently served as a commissioner on the Resolution Foundation’s Intergenerational Commission and regularly appears on national TV and radio.

Paul Scully MP – Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets

Paul Scully MP is Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets within the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. He owns a small business from his Sutton and Cheam constituency. A former councillor and member of the Conservative Party, he served as its vice chairman for the London region from 2017 to 2019. Paul Scully has been the government minister responsible for the retail industry throughout the pandemic and chairs the Retail Sector Council.

Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, Chair, House of Commons Environmental Audit Select Committee

The MP for Ludlow since 2005, Philip is the Chair of the House of Commons Environmental Audit Select Committee and a former Health and Defence Minister. Philip is Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Rural Services and before Parliament led a minority Conservative group at South Shropshire District Council. He sees himself as a mainstream “one-nation” Conservative, to the left-of-centre on social issues but to the Right economically. Dunne was brought up on the family farm near Ludlow and initially worked in the City before becoming involved in the founding of Ottakar’s bookshop, which was later acquired by Waterstones.  During his 18 year involvement as co-founder and then Chairman of Ottakar’s, he grew the company to a business employing over 2,500 people nationwide in nearly 150 shops.

Victoria Robertshaw, Co-founder, Keelham Farm Shop

Victoria is founder of Keelham Farm Shop, operating from the family’s farm in Thornton near Bradford with another located in Skipton. Victoria came to run the business alongside her brother James, whose background was in farming, after a business management career in London, where she had spent 13 years in accountancy. Keelham Farm Shop manufactures more than 50% of products on-site, supports more than 200 local events annually and hosts school visits to encourage healthy eating. Now also at the helm of Delicious Planet Consultancy, Victoria won Woman of the Year at the Natwest Everywoman Awards in 2017 and is a member of the Government’s Retail Sector Council.

Claire Spendley, Head of Community Business, Plunkett Foundation

Claire has had a varied career across a number of marketing, public relations, membership and management roles, after having graduated from the University of Surrey with a BA Hons in Combined Languages (French and Spanish). Claire is passionate about ensuring Plunkett’s network of community businesses are empowered through their membership to solve problems, address local needs, and build businesses that continue to thrive. Claire is also a trustee for East Street Early Years CIO, a Banbury-based charity supporting vulnerable families in the community.

Dean Holborn, Owner, Holborns

Dean Holborn has been in the business for over 25 years, he owns two very busy convenience stores in Surrey, one a neighbourhood store and the other rural. 

He has invested heavily in both stores which are of a very high standard and have won various awards. Although they are Mace affiliated, they maintain the Holborn’s own fascia and logo which has a strong recognition in their respective communities. 

Holborn’s plays a large part in the community by way of sponsoring football teams, school events, and social events of a various nature.

Nancy Hey, Executive Director, What Works Centre for Wellbeing

Nancy Hey is a global leader in the field of wellbeing. Prior to setting up the Centre, she worked in the UK Civil Service in nine departments as a policy professional and coach, delivering cross UK Government policies including on constitutional reform. She has worked with the UK’s top civil servants to introduce wellbeing into public policy and to establish the professional policy community in the UK. She has degrees in law and in coaching and development. Nancy is currently a specialist advisor on wellbeing to the UK House of Lords Life After Covid Inquiry and on a wide range of advisory groups including Public Health England’s Every Mind Matters Expert Advisory Group, Carnegie UK Trust’s Embedding Wellbeing in Northern Ireland, Stockholm City Region, Pro Bono Economics and the Loneliness & Social Isolation Research Network. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Fellow of the Institute of Coaching and a Harvard Medical School Affiliate.

Nick Kenworthy, Sales and Marketing Director, Appleby Westward

Nick Kenworthy joined Appleby Westward in 2000 and has had a number of roles within the Sales team, being appointed to Sales Director in 2003. Previously Nick worked for Somerfield and the Whitbread Group. Nick is responsible for the recruitment and development of the Independent retailer estate within the Appleby Westward Group territory.

Catherine Westoby, Senior Policy Adviser – Public Behaviour Change on Net Zero, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Catherine is the Net Zero Business Engagement lead for the Clean Growth Directorate in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). She currently leads the Together for Our Planet Business Climate Leaders campaign for Andrew Griffith MP in his role as UK Net Zero Business Champion ahead of COP26 in November. Catherine previously worked at Transport for London before joining BEIS in March 2020, leading a number of campaigns including ahead of the introduction of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).

Joe Hulme, Group Climate Change Officer, Co-op Group

Originally a climate change campaigner, Joe has worked as a sustainability professional for over a decade, developing and managing environmental strategies for the fire service and NHS before joining the Co-op five years ago. Joe currently leads on climate change policy for the Co-op and its delivery across the organisation. This includes Co-op’s science-based targets, net zero pathway, end-to-end carbon footprinting, and how this practically translates into carbon reduction both in Co-op’s direct operations and through their supply chains.

Jonathan James, Owner of James Convenience Retail

Jonathan is the owner of the James Graven Group based in Cambridgeshire. The business owns and operates Budgens at Dersingham in Norfolk. Jonathan also owns James Convenience Retail Ltd which operates 110 stores across the UK. Jonathan was the founding Chairman of the Budgens National Retailer Council, is a former member of the NACS International Committee and was Chairman of ACS for three years. 

Avtar Sidhu, Budgens

Avtar Sidhu (Sid) began his working life in software only moving into retail relatively recently. He decided that he would like to enter the retail industry and run his own convenience store. He bought a very old fashioned store which, over its 30 year life, had had little or no investment. Sid was determined to incorporate the latest thinking into his store and so after multiple store visits and detailed research, planning permission for a new multipurpose building with business premises and accommodation was granted. Demolition of the old building followed and after a year and a total spend in the region of £750,000 he was open for business. Sid’s aim was to match his store to the aspirational demographic of his customers and he sees his shop as a mini ‘Waitrose’ with a high quality offer and excellent value for money.

Dawood Pervez, Managing Director, Bestway Group

James Lowman, Chief Executive, ACS

James was appointed ACS Chief Executive in November 2006. He has led ACS on political and policy representation, driven a unique research programme that informs ACS’ policy work, launched an industry-leading assured advice scheme in partnership with Surrey County Council, created a new and unique events programme, and increased membership and engagement from all parts of the industry. He has been recognised for his work with outstanding achievement awards from HIM, Palmer & Harvey, YIGA, and the Retail Industry Awards. James is a member of ministerial advisory groups including the National Retail Crime Steering Group and the Retail Sector Council. He also sits on the boards of Community Alcohol Partnerships, the London Food Board and the High Streets Task Force. James joined ACS in 1997. He has a degree in Politics from the University of Essex, and an MBA from Kingston Business School.