2020 STORE Conference Speakers
President & CEO
Birks Group Inc.
Jean-Christophe Bedos is currently President and Chief Executive Officer of Birks Group Inc., formerly Henry Birks & Sons, a leading manufacturer and retailer of luxury jewelry and watchmaking since 1879 in Canada. Before joining Birks, Mr. Bedos was previously working at the upscale jeweler, Boucheron International (Kering), in Paris, France, where he served as President and Chief Executive Officer after a successful career in the Richemont Group in Paris and London and the iconic Cartier House.
In July 2018, Birks won the prestigious Brand of The Year Award. This annual event is the ultimate recognition for global brands. The evaluation process involves a three-step process: evaluation, online audience voting, and branded consumer market research. Birks has been the only brand to receive the award in the retail jewelry category, outperforming an impressive competition with its dedication and passion behind the fine jewelry brand. Mr. Bedos currently sits on the Board of Directors of Birks Group Inc. He is a member of the Board of the Montreal General Hospital Foundation and a member of the Global Advisory Board of the London Business School. He is an active member of the "The Future of St. Catherine Street" committee and has co-chaired the McCord Museum and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra fundraisers. Mr. Bedos is a builder of quality brands in the luxury distribution sector, and brings a very relevant experience after having spent his entire career, more than 30 years, in fine watchmaking and jewelry. Mr. Bedos earned a Master of Business Administration from London Business School - Sloan Masters Fellowship Program, with honors in Marketing and Brand Management, a Bachelor of Law in International Business from the University of Paris Panthéon-Sorbonne; an honors degree in European Affairs from Trent University, Nottingham, England; and a Bachelor of Business Administration from the Toulouse Business School, France.
Chief Executive Officer
David became the fourth generation of his family to work in the shoe business when he joined the ALDO Group in 1996. The tradition dates back to his great-grandfather, who was a cobbler in Algeria in the 1800s. David is a first-generation Canadian born and raised in Montreal. His mother hails from Scotland and earned a one-way ticket to Canada as part of a Commonwealth immigration program. David’s father took a longer route, moving from Morocco to France to the US before landing in Montreal.
A lover of geopolitics and a real history buff, David holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) with concentrations in Geography and History from Queen’s University and an MPhil in Land Economics from Cambridge University. Prior to joining the ALDO Group, David spent several years working in real estate development in the areas of commercial leasing and resort development.
David was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the ALDO Group in April 2017. Prior to becoming CEO, he spent two decades working in almost every corner of the business, from Operations to IT to Buying. In 2001, he took his first leap as an executive leader, heading the Call It Spring brand, where he tripled profits in a two-year period. Soon afterwards, David moved to the Aldo brand where he led the second wave of expansion in the US, opening 250 stores in just three years.
David played a key role in the ALDO Group’s omnichannel journey by leading several innovative in-store technology projects, improving the customer experience and using the eComm platform to its full extent.
In 2010, wanting to leverage the ALDO Group’s expertise in fashion footwear, David created ALDO Product Services (APS). This wholesale division was created to serve other retailers and quickly became a $100 million business in a matter of just 18 months. By 2017, APS proudly served many of the world’s largest retailers and (fun fact) helped them sell $1 billion worth of shoes.
David has also been an agent of change within the company, pioneering new business models and evolving core processes. His mantra, “make a big company feel small”, really embodies his leadership style, which translates into three key actions: be kind to ourselves and each other, strive for simplicity and make processes people-friendly.
As CEO, David has been driven since day one to elevate the company’s culture and to put into words why its people do what they do – their purpose. He built a team that looked at the DNA of its people; together they studied the company’s history and heritage and used its values as a foundation to define the ALDO Group’s purpose: A journey to create a world of love, confidence, and belonging.
A forward-thinking leader with progressive ideas, David’s commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility is one that stems from the ALDO Group’s values of Love, Respect and Integrity and cascades throughout all levels of the company. Under his direction, the company has put in progress a low carbon strategy and became the first fashion footwear and accessories company in the world to be certified as climate neutral for its offices and stores.
David and his wife Isabelle are parents to Logan, Sloan and Connor and reside in Montreal, Quebec. He is a firm believer in hands-on philanthropy and he has succeeded in pairing two of his greatest passions: his drive to give back and rally racing, by participating in a series of international racing events that helped raise over $200,000 for AIDS research. He and his wife are also dedicated to several charities, with the bulk of their efforts going towards improving education and health.
Doug Stephens is one of the world’s foremost retail industry futurists. His intellectual work and thinking have influenced many of the world’s best-known retailers, agencies and brands including Walmart, Google, Home Depot, Disney, BMW, Citibank, and Intel. Doug is also listed as one of retail’s top global influencers by Vend.com.
Prior to founding Retail Prophet, Doug spent over 20 years in the retail industry, holding senior international roles including the leadership of one of New York City’s most historic retail chains.
Doug is the author of two groundbreaking books - The Retail Revival: Re-Imagining Business for the New Age of Consumerism (2013) and Reengineering Retail: The Future of Selling in a PostDigital World (2017) Doug is also the nationally syndicated retail columnist for CBC Radio and sits on the advisory boards of the Dx3 Digital Conference and the David Sobey Centre for Innovation in Retail & Services at St. Mary’s University.
His unique perspectives on retailing, business and consumer behavior have been featured in many of the world’s leading publications and media outlets including The New York Times, The BBC, Bloomberg Business News, TechCrunch, The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal and Fast Company.
Doug speaks regularly to major brands and organizations across North and South America, Europe, Asia, The Middle East and Australia.
CEO and Chief Sustainability Officer
Michael’s journey with IKEA began with what started as a one-year internship program in 1986. From there he quickly progressed to hold various positions with increased responsibilities at IKEA Canada, and then moved onto IKEA globally where he held strategic leadership roles in Sweden, the Netherlands and the United States. Michael has a passion for retail with a proven track record of driving growth and leading through change on both a country and a global level.
Canadian Grand Prix New Product Awards Gala
James Cunningham returns to host the 27th Annual Canadian Grand Prix New Product Awards Gala.
James is an award-winning comedian and lecturer, and most recently, bestselling author.
James is the hilarious host and associate producer of the TV series Eat St., which airs on Cooking Channel USA, Food Network Canada, and in more than a dozen other countries around the world. He is the author of the bestselling cookbook of the same name (Eat St.), wherein he shares recipes from the most daring, delicious, and inventive street food that can be found anywhere. James can also be seen regularly on The Marilyn Denis Show on CTV.
James has been featured on many national and international network television shows including Last Comic Standing, Just for Laughs, and Comedy Now.
When not filming Eat St., James keeps himself busy performing at comedy clubs and corporate shows everywhere.
Kevin Graff is the President of Graff Retail, based in Toronto, Ontario. Since 1988, Graff Retail has specialized in working with retailers around the globe to increase their revenue through improved staff performance.
Kevin is widely respected as one of North America’s best retail speakers and trainers and was recently chosen as one of the Top 50 Retail Influencers. His principle belief is that retailers are losing too many sales each day in their stores that they should be capturing. Kevin’s approach to store operations and his intense focus on real, bottom-line issues continually produce outstanding results.
Kevin is also the creator of Graff Retail TV, the retail community’s leading source of online sales and management training. Since being launched in 2008, Graff Retail TV has provided thousands of sales associates and store management teams with the skills they need to succeed.
Excellence in Retail Awards Gala
Ben Mulroney returns to host Retail Council of Canada's Excellence in Retailing Awards Gala.
Vice President and General Manager of Merchant Services Canada
A skilled executive with a passion for partnerships and collaboration, Kerri-Ann Santaguida is the Vice President and General Manager of Merchant Services Canada at American Express, where she leads the Global Merchant Services Business across Canada. Kerri-Ann and her team work closely with millions of merchants across Canada that accept American Express and serve as an acquirer, processor and marketing partner for merchants of all sizes, including small, regional and global businesses. Since taking over the role in September 2015, Kerri-Ann is responsible for leading a high performing team of more than 100+ employees with a focus on providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success.
Chief Marketing Officer