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Former employees gather to honour Laura Ashley legacy
Oct '13
Sixty years on from creation, Laura Ashley’s legacy has not only been to create a global iconic retailing brand, but also to launch and develop the careers of many retail executives who are now major players within retail and entrepreneurs in their own right. 

Now in the Diamond Jubilee year since Laura and Bernard Ashley first started the iconic British retailing brand, over 100 senior retail executives from across the business’ history have come together at a special event in London to pay tribute to the impact the business has had for so many working in retail today.

The high profile guests who attended the ‘Life After Laura’ event included notable figures from across Laura Ashley’s 60 year history including N.Brown Chairman Andy Higginson, Dwell CEO Aamir Ahmad, Joules MD Colin Porter, Tie Rack CEO Jo O’Connor and Laura and Bernard Ashley’s, younger son, Nick Ashley, Creative Director at Private White VC.  The event also featured a strong international contingent of former Laura Ashley retailers, with guests flying in from Europe, USA, and all corners of the UK to attend the event.

The event marks the conclusion of a six month campaign to celebrate 60 years of Laura Ashley which was conceived by Pauline Wood and Claire Beasley, Joint MD’s of retail executive search specialists court & spark consulting who themselves clocked up 30 years in retail operations roles at Laura Ashley.  

As part of the campaign, court & spark has compiled a commemorative scrapbook which has mapped the careers and secured personal insights from a host of former Laura Ashley retail executives. 

In addition to unveiling the book at the event, guests were also able to view a display of Laura Ashley memorabilia and enjoy a replica Laura Ashley shop birthday cake. Whilst the focus of the event was to celebrate the impact Laura Ashley has made to British design and retailing talent, naturally it also included a moment to pay tribute to Laura Ashley herself who sadly passed away in 1985.

Andy Higginson, Chairman N Brown and former Finance Director at Laura Ashley said: “The four years I spent at Laura Ashley was an important part of my career as it showed how a strong company culture can carry business through tough times. It was a period when the company was experiencing difficulties but the staff battled against IT problems and logistic issues to hold it together. It became clear to me that the loyalty and commitment from the LA staff across the business was one of our strongest assets.”

Pauline Wood, Joint MD of court & spark consulting who organised the event comments: “My 25 years in the Laura Ashley business which culminated in my role as Retail Operations Director North America gave me the opportunity to learn from the best, and work with the best. 

"The UK retail industry has benefitted from the major contribution Laura Ashley has made to design, retailing and talent development.  The Diamond Jubilee creates a great opportunity to pay tribute to the impact Laura Ashley has had on so many working in retail today.”

Court & Spark Consulting

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