Meet the Mentor

Sean Ghouse, Director of Retail UK, Fortnum & Mason

In our new ‘Meet the Mentor’ mini series we meet the senior leaders from the Walpole membership who are generously giving their time to support up-and-coming talents in the British luxury industry. Today we meet Sean Ghouse, Director of Retail UK at Fortnum & Mason. Here Sean shares what he has learnt through being a mentor, as well as his advice for budding entrepreneurs, and what he wish he knew when he started out.
3rd Aug 2021
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Meet the Mentor Sean Ghouse, Director of Retail UK, Fortnum & Mason

Tell us about yourself and your career - how you found yourself where you are now?

I started in retail almost 30 years ago working part time in 89 Regents Street which at the time was Dunn & Co. menswear then later Ciro Citterio.

After finishing my degree I decided I really liked the balance of product, customers and people management and worked at Harrods running their men's formal wear. Later I worked as Area Manager menswear at Selfridges then General Manager for Niketown London, MATCHESFASHION, Head of Retail for dunhill’s flagship in Mayfair, Head of Customer Experience at Watches of Switzerland, Store Director for LVMH and then after consulting in my own business whilst my son was born joined Fortnum & Mason.

What interests you in the luxury sector particularly?

Fashion, watches, F&B and luxury hotels. I am very excited about the opening of The Londoner and also the new Rosewood hotel in Mayfair. The Ned is always go to favourite as well.

Who are you mentoring this year as part of the Brands of Tomorrow programme?

eto - an amazing husband and wife team and lovely people all round!

Have you learnt anything unexpected from your mentee?

How a husband and wife team can manage family and business so well. It's not easy at the best of times but eto founders Tom and Dina are amazing.

Have you ever had a mentor yourself? 

I have had many mentors over the years across different skill sets. I don’t think one can ever learn everything from just one person, but I look at mentors for different skill sets that I want to build upon.

What is your source of inspiration and motivation?

The greatest privilege of being in any managerial position is to take your people on the journey, both in terms of business success but also their own personal growth and career. I am extremely passionate about the next generation of retail talent in the UK and work to promote our industry whenever I get the chance.

If you could have done something differently in your career what would it be?

Increased my personal knowledge in technology at an early stage. I am very excited about how retail stores can be digitally enabled to enhance and practically benefit customer experience.

What advice do you have for any budding entrepreneurs looking to start their own business?

Master the fundamentals of each area of your business, then as you grow and need to build a team make sure that you set them up for success and independence to help build your brand and give you the personal time back that every entrepreneur has to sacrifice in those early stages.

Provide a strong framework of trust for your team to thrive in and feel that it is also their business - micro managing never works out well in the long run.

What advice do you have for those who are not entrepreneurs, but are looking to take the next step in their career?

Build a business around what you love but at the same time don’t let your passion override good business decisions. Know your stuff, do your research and also seek out different points of view.

What is your greatest luxury under £10?

Fortnum & Mason Royal Blend Tea and our Pistachio & Clotted Cream Biscuits... a real pleasure both in consumption but taking time to appreciate it.