Mr John Pal


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A town planner by education, a retailer by profession and an academic by accident, I started in retailing as a warehouseman sweeping the floors at Marks & Spencer in Leeds. My early management career was spent with C & A as a merchandiser working in Newcastle, Glasgow, Liverpool and Reading before joining Goldberg's (which counted Ted Baker and Schuh in its stable of brands) as a store manager, latterly in Blackpool.

Prior to joining MBS in 2011 I taught on courses at MMU for Sainsbury's, B & Q, Tesco and the Co-operative. My academic teaching and publications reflects, and is built on, my first hand retail experience and interest in retail location. In August 2013 I attained Senior Fellow status of the Higher Education Academy and in the university have made presentations on teaching and learning techniques at The Humanities Teaching Roadshow and on the Humanities New Academics Programme. I am the recipient of a University of Manchester Teaching Excellence Award, 2013/14.

In addition to comment and analysis for newspapers and the trade press on retailing, I have made numerous contributions for the broadcast media including on BBC 1 Breakfast, BBC Radios 2, 4 and 5Live, Sky News and the BBC TV series 'Rip Off Britain'. You can see one of my BBC TV appearance here:   

Further information

Recent Invited Presentations and Keynotes

Chair of Vital Topics, Alliance Manchester Business School, panel event about “Leadership in retail” (24th February 2016) with:

  • Peter Donohoe, Project Lead, Healthy High Streets programme, Business in the Community (on secondment from role as Head of Region, Marks & Spencer);
  • Nicky Little, ex-Matalan and Director, Cirrus, leadership and brand engagement specialists;
  • Craig McGregor, Retail Director, Top Shop / Top Man (Arcadia Group);
  • Nigel Murray, Commercial Director, Booths; and,
  • Nicky Unsworth, CEO, co-owner BJL, independent creative agency

"The incontrovertible and inconvenient truths about retail planning policy making" Royal Town Planning Institute, north west branch, 16 January 2014

“Learning from major marketing failures” Chartered Institute of Marketing, North West Institute, Manchester, 27 February 2013  

“Policy and the High Street”, Institute of Historic Building Conservation Conference on Heritage and the High Street, Liverpool, 17 October 2012

"Learning from retail failure” Success in the new retailing era, Manchester Business School Retail Workshop 19 September 2012

“Retailing goes back to basics” DWF/BakerTilly, Manchester Sponsored roundtable, 15 May 2012 

“The Portas Review and the Future of Retail”, After-lunch presentation to clients of Addleshaw Goddard (corporate lawyers), Manchester, 30 March 2012

External positions

External Examiner, Henley Business School

1 Jan 2017 → …

External Examiner, London College of Fashion


External Examiner, Institute of Grocery Distribution


External Examiner, Middlesex University


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