New networking group to connect senior retail execs

Next week (29 October) sees the launch of the Global Retail Network (GR-Network), a membership organisation for senior retail executives around the world.

The group has been established by former Littlewoods and New Look executive Mark Eve, who believes there is a need for those working at the top level of retail to share their industry knowledge and concerns in a private forum.

With regular meetings hosted throughout the year, the belief is that those operating in the industry will have an opportunity to speak their mind on the major issues impacting their company, outside of the more open industry events that take place during the course of the calendar year. With the advent of technology ramping up the pace of change in retail to unprecedented levels, the network aims to provide execs with a chance to learn from their peers.

There is a membership fee to pay, and that money is invested back into the group to offer various benefits including social events and a personal lifestyle advisory service VoloEo.

Eve, who previously ran the Global Retail Forum, a free-to-join network of 50,000 members from which GR-Network has its roots, told Essential Retail: “You can talk about topical issues – and try to iron out industry problems.

"I founded Global Retail Inc companies to focus all its efforts assisting brands expand their businesses. My observations of successful high growth international brands like Inditex or McDonald's, all achieve their growth through partnerships. My idea is to leverage this for industry through a mass approach, creating a sharing platform in real time and a global exclusive collaboration network: the GR-Network.

"We're keen for mature members to get involved and impart their knowledge on the younger members, so that the new generation of leaders can further their learning. This works the other way round, too, with the younger members able to bring fresh ideas.

"There's a whole piece around retailers expanding mCommerce platforms and where do retailers direct their investment when it comes to social media – these are some of the major talking points right now."

GR Network currently has 25 founding members, including the founder of New Look, and senior management at fashion chains French Connection, Coach, Michael Kors and Superdry. Eve is keen to maintain exclusivity so is focused on subscribing around 2,000 active senior executives in time.

The network's purpose is now to recruit senior decision makers, connect them in a confidential safe environment online and at experiential events throughout the year.

As well as organised events, members can use the network’s website to connect with fellow execs around the globe. So, for instance, on a trip to the Asia, a UK retailer can organise to meet up with fellow member to share their industry views or spend time with one another on a more social level.

At an official launch event the W Hotel in London's Leicester Square on 29 October, Eve will look to add to the membership numbers – and he says that there is a real desire within the retail industry for what he describes as a Chatham House-like forum.

"Members can help each other grow their businesses without compromising their brand's USP," Eve explained.

"We're trying to create a platform for our members to talk and share ideas in a closed environment. Members can stand up in front of their peers and share information that they might not share at other events where media and vendors are present as it is retailers only.

"There might be an opportunity for members to learn about new territories, and gain information and contacts that will help if they look to expand their business into new territories and new areas."

To learn more about membership fees, or to find out how you can join Global Retail Network, contact Mark Eve on