Meet our Speakers

Please see below our speaker line-up for The Convenience Conference 2021.

Stuart Hookins
Stuart Hookins
Managing Director of Property
The Co-op

Stuart is the Managing Director of Property at the Co-op, responsible for around 6,000 properties, from Food stores and depots, to funeral homes and offices, throughout the UK.

Stuart has spent the last 15 years at the Co-op, the last 10 years within property, and has been responsible for their property strategy for those 10 years. Stuart spent the earlier years of his career with KPMG and then Siemens in finance, accounting, strategy and corporate finance.

Justin King
Justin King
Former CEO
Sainsbury's

Justin King has been a leader in customer-facing businesses for over three decades. He has served in many senior roles at leading companies, including Sainsbury's, M&S, Asda, Häagen-Dazs, PepsiCo & Mars.

An influential businessman in the retail industry, Justin is credited for having turned Sainsbury’s around. At the beginning of his ten-year tenure at the company, he implemented a successful programme to ‘Make Sainsbury’s Great Again’. Under his leadership, the iconic British retailer trebled profits and delivered a shareholder return of 85%

.As an advocate for responsible business, Justin was influential in establishing the retailer’s long-standing relationship with Comic Relief, where the company pledged £1 for every £10 donated to the charity. In addition, he was instrumental in pioneering the company’s sponsorship of the Paralympic Games.

Justin was Vice Chairman & Senior Adviser at Terra Firma and served as a director on a number of boards within the TF portfolio. He led the sale of Wyevale Garden Centres and brighterkind, both TF companies. He is a Non-Executive Director of M&S and serves on PWC’s Public Interest Body. He is a Senior Adviser to Snappy Shopper, itim Group plc, Sazka Group and Atrato, Investment Adviser to Supermarket Income REIT (SUPR).

Previously, Justin was a Director of the LOCOG and Staples, and served on the audit committee of both organisations. He was also a Member of the UK Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group. Justin has a passion for cars and served as interim Chairman of the Manor Racing F1 team during its restructuring.

Justin speaks regularly on the topics of leadership through change and responsible business.

To recognise his services to the retail industry, Justin was awarded a CBE in HM The Queen’s New Year Honours List 2011 and in 2013 was named Most Admired Business Leader by Management Today.

Justin launched Made by Sport in 2019, a charity that champions the power of sport to transform young lives.


Anand Cheema
Anand Cheema
Spar Falkirk

My name is Anand Cheema and I run a SPAR store in the central belt of Scotland, specifically in the city of Falkirk. I grew up in Retail, stocking up shelves in our family-owned stores from an early age, quickly falling in love with convenience and wanting to pursue a career in this trade.

Having completed my degree in Accountancy and Finance, the lure of retail never left me and I started working for Spar Scotland wholesaler and retailer CJ Lang gaining invaluable exposure to the retail world from a wholesaler’s point of view and picking up sales ideas in the process. I took over my store in July 2020 and opened its doors in August of the same year. It has now been a year and I haven't looked back; I’m absolutely loving the challenge and experience so far!

Inside the store, we have really focused and emphasised on Specialist Spirits, Beer Kegs, Food on the Go and Fresh, giving us a real differential from our competitors whilst also implementing top-quality customer service levels and a real family-owned business atmosphere for our customers. My degree, various jobs and retail background, coupled with my parents expertise have all amalgamated into one to really help shape who I am today and drive my business and sale forward. I look forward to what the future has in store!"

Nishi Patel
Nishi Patel
Londis Bexley Park

Nishi Patel is 36 years old and has been in retail for 12 years. “Retail has been in my family for 40 years and I am the 3rd generation of uk shop keeps,” Nishi tells us “I have two shops Londis Bexley Park and Londis Manor Close. I have recently bought the shops from my father as he has retired after 35 years of serving the community. I love retailing and it’s in my blood , retail to me is ever evolving and I love to keep my shops fresh and up to date with the market , this helps ensure we bring the best to our customers week in week out.”

Gurpreet Saundh
Gurpreet Saundh
Head of UK Strategic Partnerships
Unilever

Gurpreet is spearheading strategic partnerships and field management for the NOW movement which is a dynamic start-up within Unilever focusing on online delivery channels such as marketplace and direct to consumer.

Gurpreet brings extensive FMCG experience having been part of multinational corporations. He has covered many leadership roles in his career which have been leveraged to promote digital transformation and innovation with new related business models deploying data-driven insights.

He is an agile business mentor and consultant for Growth Strategy Solutions ltd and has a passion for people development through his coaching accreditations, one being through the Football Association.

Colm Johnson
Colm Johnson
Managing Director
Booker Group – Retail

Colm Johnson has over 30 years of experience in the wholesale industry. He started his career as a part time cash & carry assistant with Linfood Cash & Carry in Rochdale.

He progressed to Assistant Manager in 1988, which led to management roles across the North West, before leading the team that opened Booker’s flag ship catering branch in Stockport in 1997. Following the success of this new branch, Colm then turned around loss making branches in northern England.

In 2002, Colm moved to the buying role of Regional Trading Controller for Scotland and northern England. This focussed around understanding local markets, regional prices and customer satisfaction, as well as negotiating with suppliers to ensure the best possible value for both retail and catering customers.

Colm moved to Director of Trading – Impulse in 2006. Leading a team of over 20 people, he was responsible for buying all retail product, price, improving cash profit and customer satisfaction for Booker customers. In September 2019 Colm moved to his current role of Managing Director, Booker Group – Retail.

Colm is responsible for the development of the complete Booker Group retail business through Booker Wholesale, Booker Retail Partners and all independent, regional and national accounts.

Turancan Salur
Turancan Salur
General Manager
Getir UK

Born in Istanbul, Turancan grew up in Turkey before moving to the US and graduating from the University of Chicago.

After graduation, Turancan returned to Turkey and began work as a Corporate Finance Associate at KPMG before co-founding BiTaksi with Nazim Salur in 2013. BiTaksi became Turkey’s leading taxi hailing app and connected app users with taxis in as little as 3 minutes.

Having gained experience in the technology field, Turancan went on to become the Chief Strategy Officer at the pioneering ultrafast grocery delivery company, Getir, which was the first company to deliver groceries in 10 minutes. Since launching in 2015 it achieved ‘unicorn’ status in just over 5 years and now operates in over 40 cities in Turkey. Getir delivers from a range of 1,500 grocery items to customers in minutes.

In 2021 Turancan led Getir into its first expansion outside Turkey and became its UK General Manager as the tech business launched in London in January of the same year. Following their successful market entry in London, Turancan has since overseen Getir’s growth into 7 cities in the UK including Birmingham, Manchester, Brighton, Cardiff, Liverpool and Bristol. In eight months, the business has grown to 2,000 employees.

In his younger days, Turancan was a proud home brewer of various beers. Those days are gone. Now, when not overseeing the UK’s largest ultrafast online grocery delivery company, he is a busy father of two young children with only occasional visits to the gym.

Gary Batten
Gary Batten
Director
Phoenix Stores

Gary Batten has been in retail for over 40 years with a wealth of experience spanning non-food, petrol as well as grocery and working as an independent as well as for corporate businesses. In 2016, at the age of 50, Gary decided to go it alone and bought his first shop which he ran under the Nisa brand. This was followed in 2019 by an ambitious project renovating the local village hall into a community hub and full convenience store. Both stores are based in the St Austell area of Cornwall, two miles apart from each other and have seen massive growth to date.

Gary has a real passion for retail and particularly providing excellent customer service which he achieves by recruiting and developing the best staff. He believes if you treat your staff fairly, honestly and reward them, the turnover will come. Being involved in the local community is also a priority for Gary and he does this through supporting numerous local sporting teams using his Making a Difference Locally (MADL) Nisa charity fund which allows him to give back to the community and he finds very rewarding in many ways.

In March 2020 Gary launched a home delivery service, first operating on a phone order and email system, which still exists today, he used volunteer drives to get shopping out to customers. Such was the success of the operation that he now employs drivers and has bought a delivery vehicle to support future growth. Furthermore, the service has developed into an app-based system using “Appyshop” to better manage demand.

Home deliveries now account for 8% of total turnover and that is still growing. For Gary’s market, the future seems to be with the one-hour delivery service with app customers largely different to those who go into store and not as a direct result of Covid either. And although home deliveries are labour intensive with the picking and delivery logistics, the average basket spend is three times higher than instore and the margins are also higher as the app does not run all the promotions.

Gary is always looking for the next opportunity and will be opening another store this year and next and he is also keen to support other retailers learn from his success and failures.

Aidan Fortune
Aidan Fortune
Editor
ConvenienceStore.co.uk

Appointed as editor of ConvenienceStore.co.uk earlier this year, Aidan previously worked on the brand between 2008 and 2015 as a reporter and products editor. Aidan grew up in the retail industry, with his parents running a convenience store in Dublin. He is most excited about best practice ideas and knowledge sharing amongst retailers that helps the entire sector grow.

Blonnie Whist
Blonnie Whist
Head of Insight
Lumina Intelligence

Resident storyteller at Lumina Intelligence, Blonnie’s mission is to “make data do more”.

Skilled in thought-leadership, she channels research into actionable insight that aligns businesses with consumer needs. Blonnie has previously won awards for her innovative approach to insight in the BWS category.

Sophie Lane
Sophie Lane
Key Account Lead
Lumina Intelligence

As Key Account Lead at Lumina Intelligence, Sophie is responsible for leading and delivering analytical and insight based solutions to FMCG businesses across the OOH, Convenience and Wholesale markets.

Sophie has a background in geographic information science, consumer insight and market analysis. Prior to joining Lumina Intelligence, Sophie worked at Kantar Worldpanel and as an English teacher in Asia.

Ronan Hegarty
Ronan Hegarty
News Editor
The Grocer

Ronan is currently news editor at The Grocer. He has been covering the UK grocery sector for almost 20 years and has a particular expertise on the convenience and wholesale sector.


Sarah Britton
Sarah Britton
Senior Features Writer
The Grocer

Sarah has worked on Convenience Store for 13 years, interviewing many of the best retailers in the UK and visiting and filming award-winning stores. She has written articles on a wide range of topics, including business planning, crime prevention and store development. She also manages the title's Products In-Depth articles, which provide insight into the performance of key categories within the convenience channel, analysing new trends and highlighting sales opportunities.

She regularly creates, edits and publishes videos of retailer interviews and product showcases, as well as helping to run C-Store's social media pages. Prior to Convenience Store Sarah spent three years working at Food Manufacture magazine.