Now a campaigner for the survival of the high street, Bill Grimsey has shown a passion for retail throughout his career.

Pressured by his father to train as a civil engineer for two years, Grimsey joined Bishop’s Food Stores after college as a trainee manager. He rose to become director and, when the business merged with Budgens in 1986, Grimsey then joined Tesco.

He gained further experiences at the head of DIY chains Wickes and Focus after a short and successful stint in charge of supermarket Park ‘n’ Shop in Hong Kong.

A controversial stint at Iceland between 2001 and 2005 where the company accumulated debt is now referred by the food chains’ corporate website as “The Dark Ages”. Grimsey is author of The Vanishing High Street, an alternative report to the Portas Review.

Key achievements

  • Author of the Grimsey Review and Sold Out
  • Grimsey scooped more than £2m in share options for successfully guiding DIY chain Wickes from near bankruptcy to a £290m venture capital buyout by Focus-Do-It-All.
  • Increasing profits twentyfold in just five years for Hutchison Whampoa’s Park n’ Shop supermarket chain in Hong Kong.

Lessons for your store

  1. A passion for retail will ultimately drive greater successes.
  2. Building a strong reputation can help you achieve political clout that influences decision makers.
  3. It’s difficult to reach the top without making a few enemies.

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