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2018 judging panel

Dominic Allonby, CEO, Fruugo
Gerald Dawson, Finance Director, Forthglade
Claire Joel, Head of IT (Business Change), Reiss
Sharon Peters, Head of IT Business Solutions – Food Programmes, Marks and Spencer
Nadine Sharara, Customer Director, Hobbs
Professor Merlin Stone, Managing Director, Merlin Stone Ltd and Professor of Marketing and Strategy, St Mary’s University

Image titleDominic Allonby, CEO, Fruugo
After gaining a Master of Science in Genetic Engineering, Dominic has spent the past fifteen years building online marketplaces. In 2012 he led the management buy-out of Finland-based global marketplace Fruugo.com, which was founded by the chairman of Nokia. Now headquartered in the UK and operating in 32 countries around the world, Fruugo’s revenue growth has accelerated to an average of 140 per cent a year across the last four years. Supported by a stellar board and group of UK investors, Fruugo has major global ambitions.

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Gerald Dawson, Finance Director, Forthglade
Gerald is the Finance Director at Forthglade Foods, having previously been the Finance, Operations and E-commerce Director at lifestyle clothing brand Weird Fish. Prior to joining Weird Fish in early 2014, he worked with a number of fast-growing consumer businesses. These included Amazon, as it built from a £100 million to a £650 million business in the UK, and Long Tall Sally, where Gerald helped to develop international operations via both acquisition and organic growth.

Image titleClaire Joel, Head of IT (Business Change), Reiss
Claire is currently Head of IT (Business Change) at Reiss, the iconic fashion brand that creates design-led menswear, womenswear and accessories. She was previously Head of IT for the French Connection Group – whose core retail brands are French Connection, FCUK, Great Plains, Toast and YMC – where she had responsibility for the overall strategy and support of the group IT function and the associated business systems. Claire has more than 15 years of retail IT experience, and prior to working in retail she was a management consultant to the pharmaceutical industry, and then specialised as an IT strategy consultant working for clients in the UK, Europe and Australia. Her tech experience spans the multi-channel business and includes wholesale, retail, mail order and online, as well as the support services of warehousing and finance.

Image titleSharon Peters, Head of IT Business Solutions – Food Programmes, Marks and Spencer
Sharon has over 20 years’ retail experience across stores, operations, supply chain and programme management. Her career started in Marks and Spencer stores, where she progressed to become a manager in the Marble Arch branch. Sharon then moved to Gap to work in retail IT project management before taking a role as a management consultant for Accenture. She returned to Marks and Spencer in a business unit role, then moved into retail systems programme management for 10 years, where she was responsible for a number of programmes such as gift and credit vouchers, stored value, PoS roll-outs, the Christmas programme and many system improvement projects. She set up and led a new department of international supply chain operations at M&S, and now has moved back into IT to head up a portfolio of delivery programmes across the food group.

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Nadine Sharara, Customer Director, Hobbs
Nadine started her career in retail at Ben Sherman in 2002 in a marketing role, and has risen to the upper echelons of e-tail in the years since. With over ten years’ e-commerce experience across a number of blue chip retailers working both client-side and supplier-side, Nadine now specialises in helping retailers maximise online and offline trading opportunities through cross-channel integration. Her specialities include CRM, marketing, merchandising, technology, mobile, internationalisation and social. In 2015 Nadine took up the position of E-commerce and CRM Director at Moët Hennessy, home of the world’s finest luxury wines and spirits brands, before joining Hobbs as its Customer Director at the end of 2016.


Image titleProfessor Merlin Stone, Managing Director, Merlin Stone Ltd and Professor of Marketing and Strategy, St Mary’s University
Merlin is one of the UK’s top consultants, researchers, lecturers and trainers in marketing, customer insight and customer management in real and digital environments. He is an Honorary Life Fellow of the UK’s Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing, which he helped found, and was awarded their Derek Holder Lifetime Achievement Award (one of the Data IQ Talent Awards) in 2015. He has followed a full academic career, holding senior posts and professorships at several universities but has now retired from full academic work, giving occasional university lectures, and is now a Visiting Professor at Portsmouth and Oxford Brookes Universities. He is on the editorial advisory boards of several academic journals. He has a first class degree and doctorate in economics and runs a university and school tuition business focusing on management, economics and mathematics.