finance

Retail bosses among business leaders given New Year honours


Dave Lewis, the former chief executive of Tesco, and Melanie Smith, chief executive of supermarket chain Ocado Retail, are among leading business figures recognised in a New Year honours list dominated by the national effort to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Lewis, who left Tesco in October 2020 after six years at the helm, is to be granted a knighthood, while Ms Smith will be honoured with a CBE for her services to retail and the food supply chain during the Covid-19 crisis. 

Public sector workers, including medical professionals and teachers accounted for 14.8 per cent of those recognised, while 10 per cent of those on the list worked within health and social care, reflecting the significant contributions and sacrifices made by workers in year dominated by the pandemic. 

Among the health leaders honoured are Paul Cosford, emeritus medical director at Public Health England, who will receive a KCB, and Alwen Williams, chief executive of Barts Health NHS trust, who will receive a DBE for her services to the NHS. 

Pauline Williams, senior vice-president and head of global health at pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, will receive a CBE for her work in medical research and development.

Former interim chief executive of the FCA, Christopher Woolard, will receive a CBE for services to financial regulation © Anna Gordon/FT

About 9 per cent of all honours went to individuals being recognised for their services to business and the economy, notably leaders within the food and hospitality sector — including Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade association UKHospitality, and Christopher Tyas, chair of the Food Resilience Industry Forum. Both will be awarded OBEs. 

The list also highlighted the efforts made by supermarkets and local businesses throughout the pandemic, such as Joanne Whitfield, retail chief executive at the Co-op and the first female executive of a British food retailer, who will be honoured with a CBE.

Within the financial sector, Christopher Woolard, former interim chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, will receive a CBE for services to financial regulation and financial technology innovation. Meanwhile, Robert Chote, former chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility, will be knighted for services to fiscal policy and the economy. 

Geoffrey Cox, former UK attorney-general, is to be knighted © Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft/Getty Images

In total 1,239 people will be honoured, of which 49 per cent are women, and 65 per cent individuals who have undertaken outstanding work — either voluntary or paid — in their communities. 

The honours list is the most ethnically diverse announced by the UK government, with 14.2 per cent of successful recipients from black or ethnic minority backgrounds.

In politics, former attorney-general Geoffrey Cox is to be awarded with a knighthood for his parliamentary and political service while Labour’s Angela Eagle, MP for Wallasey and former shadow business secretary, will become a dame. Wendy Williams, who led the independent report into the Windrush scandal, will be honoured with a CBE for her public service.

Wendy Williams, who will receive a CBE, led the independent report into the Windrush scandal © Home Office/Gov.uk

Several honours go to sporting leaders within rugby, notably former player Rob Burrow, who will receive an MBE for his work raising awareness of motor neurone disease, following his own diagnosis in December 2019. 

Brian Barwick, former chairman of the Rugby Football League and former FA chief executive, will be awarded an OBE for services to sport and to sports broadcasting. Meanwhile, Exeter Chiefs captain Joe Simmonds has been awarded an MBE for his services to rugby union.

Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton will receive a knighthood as part of the Overseas and International Honours List. It follows his seventh World Drivers’ Championship win in November and is also in recognition of his continued charity work throughout the UK. 

F1 driver Lewis Hamilton won his seventh world title in November and will receive a knighthood © oe Portlock/Formula 1/Getty Images

Within arts and entertainment, actress Sheila Hancock will be made a dame, as will celebrity make-up artist and businesswoman Pat McGrath, who gets the honour for services to the fashion and beauty industry and to diversity. British songwriter and singer Craig David is to be awarded an MBE.

Prime minister Boris Johnson said: “In a year when so many have made sacrifices to protect our NHS and save people’s lives, the outstanding efforts of those receiving honours today are a welcome reminder of the strength of human spirit, and of what can be achieved through courage and compassion.”



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