Gifts Today magazine

New GA Chief Executive announced

Former Next store manager and Penny Kennedy director is new GA chief executive

A woman who spent the early part of her career as a store manager for Next and The Burton Group and went on to become director of Penny Kennedy, the upmarket gift packaging division of Swan Mill Group, will on Thursday start work as the new chief executive of The Giftware Association.

She is 42-year-old Sarah Ward, who attributes her “enthusiasm and passion” for retail to the “many, often stressful years” spent as part of fast-paced dynamic businesses, which included senior management roles with The Arcadia Group and Coast.

For the past 11 years Sarah has been director of Penny Kennedy, during which time the brand became synonymous with great design and innovation, earning Sarah a reputation in the industry for both her drive and great sense of style.

The move to The GA follows her decision to “embrace a complete life change”.

She explains: “I have a plaque on my wall at home that says, ‘Courage is taking the first steps to your dream, even if you can’t see the path ahead.’ And, excitingly, the role within The Giftware Association gives me the opportunity to step out boldly on my new path.

“I am so looking forward to working with everyone involved in the gift and home industry and I’m sure great things can be achieved in the coming months and years.”

Away from work, Sarah is “mum to Harry, aged 13, and slightly obsessional in buying beautiful shoes”. Her style icon is Audrey Hepburn and she is also a Dolly Parton fan.

Sarah, who was born in Newport, Isle of Wight, comments: “Going to the gym helps me to clear my head and find focus and I enjoy mooching around antique shops and wonderful walks with friends, family and the dogs”.  She also admits: “I love animals and my alter ego is a Mrs Doolittle!”

GA chairman Michael Papé says of the appointment: “We are thrilled to have someone with Sarah’s retailer and supplier experience leading The Giftware Association into an exciting new era. She understands our mission to create more trading opportunities for our members and subscribers through new GA initiatives, helping them to prosper and grow.”

 

 


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