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IADS Press Release: The Association elected Ms Kamshim Lau as the first female President of IADS in 95 Years

press December 2023 Press release

The members of the International Association of Department Stores elected Ms Kamshim Lau (Lifestyle International) as their first female president in 95 years of IADS’ existence.

During the 64th General Assembly of the International Association of Department Stores (IADS) held in London on November 8, 2023, the IADS members elected their Executive Committee for the new term, including their first female president since the inception of the Association in 1928.

Ms Kamshim Lau, Executive Director of Lifestyle International Holdings Limited (which operates SOGO department store in Hong Kong, HKSAR), was unanimously appointed President of the Association during its last General Assembly in November 2023. Lifestyle International Holdings Limited has been a member of the IADS since 2013 and this election marked its 10th year of membership. 

Ms Lau, 36, has held the position of Executive Director at Lifestyle International Holdings Limited since 2016. Ms Lau has served as Vice-President of the IADS for two consecutive terms, demonstrating her strong partnership with Mr Holger Blecker, the CEO of Breuninger GmbH & Co (Germany) and the exiting President of the IADS. She is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Hong Kong Retail Management Association (HKRMA) and a member of the Retail & Tourism Committee within the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce. Ms. Lau holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from King's College London and a Master of Arts degree from Columbia University in New York.

This is the first time that a representative from Lifestyle International Holdings Limited is appointed President, and the second time that an Asian IADS member has held this position, after Mr Ji Xiao’an, the chairman of the board of the Beijing Hualian Group (which operates SKP department stores in China), who took the leadership role from 2015 to 2017.

IADS members have also appointed Mr Blecker a member of the Executive Committee, alongside Mr Juan Carlos Escribano, CEO of El Palacio de Hierro (Mexico), Mr Nicolas Houzé, CEO of Galeries Lafayette (France), and Mr Peter King, Chairman of Magasin du Nord (Denmark). Together, they will work closely with Ms Lau in leading the strategic positioning of the IADS as an operational tool and an exclusive service for its retail members.

This drive towards a more granular role of the Association as a working resource for its members, in line with its founding principles back in 1928, has already started in the past 3 years, with a series of new initiatives aiming at consolidating its hybrid role. 

In addition to the organisation of a series of exchange meetings at all levels, from CEOs to C-suite, buyers and merchandisers, the Association now offers an array of tools developed with its partners, NellyRodi in trends identification, The Style Pulse in identifying new brands, Retail Hub in tech sourcing and RH-ISAC in cyber defence, all aiming to provide extra resources to its members. The Association also operates the IADS Academy, a 9-month-long training program for its members’ talent in a unique and compelling manner. Finally, the IADS also directly tackles its members’ questions on an individual basis by acting as a 100% dedicated informational hub.

This new direction taken by the Association has proved to be the right one: the IADS welcomed Boyner (Turkey) and Chalhoub Group (UAE) as new members in June and September 2023, respectively. The appointment of its first female president in 95 years is another testament to the IADS members’ agility and commitment to addressing the most pressing challenges in retail by collaborating and relying on the best talents available.

Ms Lau’s role will be to challenge even more the Association in a highly energetic context. Together with the renewed Executive Committee, her vision and expertise will allow the Association to remain the only expert department store body in the world, a role that IADS has played continuously since 1928.

Read the full press release below:

Read the full press release, in French, below:

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