Next are a well known and familiar sight on more than 500 High Streets in the UK and Ireland selling clothing for men, women and children. The Group include the Lipsy and Ventura brands as well as Next itself. Lipsy specialise in womenswear. Ventura appear to run call centres in the UK and India, and include the Department for Work & Pensions in their client list. Here's a way to reduce public spending, the DWP could stop spending it on Ventura.
Simon Wolfson is their Chief Executive. Sorry, maybe I should be more polite and refer to Simon by his title, Baron Wolfson of Aspley Guise, of Aspley Guise in the County of Bedfordshire. That's right our Simon, as well as being a successful shopkeeper also has time to sit in the unelected House of Lords. He's a Conservative Peer, don't you know. He was given his life peerage a month after the General Election of 2010. He had ably co-chaired the Conservative Party's Economic Competitiveness Policy Review and prior to that, with a good eye for backing a winner, he had donated to David Cameron's leadership campaign in 2005.
It would wrong however to say that Simon owes his place in the legislature to his contacts and money or that his donation to Cameron played any part whatsoever in any way, absolutely not. no. I'm sure he's a really decent bloke, as that Harry Enfield character used to say.
Simon, sorry Baron Wolfson, is familar with unelected and unqualified appointments. You see his dad, David, also a Conservative life peer, this time Baron Wolfson of Sunningdale, was Chairman of Next from 1990 to 1998 and it was during this time that Simon started at Next, in 1991, as a sales consultant in the Kensington Branch (well it wasn't likely to be the one in Scunthorpe or Bethnal Green was it?). By 1997 he was on the board of Next, a stunning career progression which I'm sure is available to all of their sales staff, and he was made Chief Executive in 2001, at the ripe old age of 33.
A lot of this information is available on his wiki page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_Wolfson) but my favourite bit is where it says that 'Wolfson is known to be publicity-shy'. Oh dear, because on 18th October Simon Wolfson signed an open letter calling on the Chancellor to continue the coalition government's plans to reduce the public finance deficit in one term, plans which included swingeing cuts on the poorest members of society and which risk pushing this country into a double-dip recession, the likes of which has not been seen since, well since the last time the tories took power and tanked economy in the early 80's.
For this reason Simon is considered a fully signed up member of the Big Business Society and we urge people to boycott Next, Lipsy and Ventura. The larger Co-ops stock clothes and there are a lot of alternatives in the rag trade for the savvy shopper.
At the time of writing this Next is leading in our Poll of which companies people to this site have pledged to boycott.
Update 29th October 2011
Business Week reported on 5th October here that Ian received a total of £1,757,000 in pay, bonuses and stock options from Next in the last year.