The most important people in our business are the Ambassadors who communicate with our customers. They all share an enthusiasm for sport, helping to develop new products as well as act as a conduit between us and our customers. You are encouraged to communicate with your Ambassador, who will provide imaginative solutions to enhance the experience and enjoyment of our products. They all operate to high standards of professionalism and conduct, reflecting the beliefs of the founders of the business.
Paul Jago is our Chairman. Paul had an early career in retailing joining Fine Fare, the 1,000 strong supermarket chain. Four years later, he was one of the original team of four who set up SavaCentre, the Sainsbury/BhS hypermarket joint venture. The business was a great success until Sainsburys took over completely. With a bureaucratic culture looming, Paul left in 1982 to set up his own consultancy, half retail executive recruitment, and half a strategic consultancy. Over the next 20 years, this counted all the UK’s major retailers as clients.
In 1982, the business was closed, and a new business started in Paul’s new home region of Chablais (on the Southern shore of Lake Geneva). The business quickly thrived in Europe, including Poland. It grew there particularly quickly, and Paul recruited a local business person to guide and aid him. Under the influence of Agnieszka Gołuch (pronounced Go), who had previously run businesses in Poland, Chablais Consulting added many strands to its original recruitment and consultancy roots. She is the director responsible for the supply chain and all our activities in Central & Eastern Europe.
The Chablais Group grew from that original business with Paul’s move to Europe, and the addition of Agnieszka. Paul chose to invite onto the Board two senior retailers whom he had known for a long time, respected and whose thoughts he trusted and valued.
Derek Hine and Paul first met at Fine Fare, where they were both given opportunities at a very early age, in their mid-twenties. The business was eventually taken over, and Derek was in demand as he rose through several aspects of retailing until he became Chief Executive of Jessops, a 70 strong family chain specialising in photography. The business grew to just under 400 shops in his 8 years there, with similar growth in sales and profits. It was the country’s leading photography chain by some distance when Derek retired in 2006. After a brief role as Chief Executive of the Works, a book chain which was recovered from the brink of disaster, Derek took up non-executive directorships in the UK. He joined us as a non-executive director in 2014.
Chris Emmel, our Brand Development Director, was also at Fine Fare in marketing before moving to Colgate Palmolive. He then joined Asda in marketing, becoming the Director of the Asda Brand. In 1999 he became Commercial Director of Whitbread Pubs, Laurel Pubs, and then Director of Trading at Booker Wholesale. His next move was to Moto Hospitality (service stations) and then NAAFI as Commercial Director. He joined us as our Brand Development Director in 2014.
With them having a long relationship with Paul, we are delighted to have their input into Chablais, bringing to bear their experience of growing businesses from a small base to brand leadership in their respective fields, providing products of real quality into the fun exciting market of sportswear.