Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Helen Brocklebank Walpole Chief Executive; Secrets of My Success

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Helen Brocklebank Walpole Chief Executive; Secrets of My Success

Article excerpt

What is Walpole? Walpole is the trade body for the British luxury sector and counts 200 of the UK's finest brands from Alexander McQueen to Wedgwood among its members. The sector is worth PS32.2 billion to the UK economy and is forecast to employ 160,000 people by 2019.

A significant part of Walpole's activity lies in nurturing future talent with our mentoring programmes investing the skills of established British brands in developing the next generation.

What do you do? My job is to represent the interests of our members at home in Westminster, in Brussels and beyond. I do all I can to protect, promote, and develop the specific needs of the British luxury sector.

A typical week can include a roundtable with Burberry, Jo Malone London, Yoox Net-APorter, The Savoy and other members to explore the impact of Brexit on retaining talent. Or there could be a session with fellow bosses in the European luxury associations to talk about joint initiatives.

We're also about to put on the Walpole British Luxury Awards, which Catherine Zeta-Jones is hosting.

What do you enjoy most about it? I love working with brands that make the UK famous the world over, and which invest in British manufacturing. I also enjoy nurturing emerging talent in the sector watch brand Bremont and shoe label Charlotte Olympia are both companies that started life on our Brands of Tomorrow programme.

What do you find most challenging about it? Brexit. Walpole worked incredibly hard with European partners to gain sector recognition for luxury within the EU, with all of the protections and privileges that entails.

Our own Government doesn't recognise the luxury sector as making a specific contribution, despite its incredible strength in markets that will become much more important to the whole economy post-Brexit. The impact of Brexit on talent is also tough, up to 60% of the luxury workforce are EU nationals and that creates a lot of uncertainty for business. …

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