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Speaker Biographies


Jyrki Katainen

Jyrki Katainen

Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, European Commission


Jyrki Katainen is currently Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness. He joined the Commission in July 2014 as Vice-President for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the euro. Before that he served as Prime Minister of Finland from 2011 to 2014 and Minister of Finance from 2007 to 2011. From 1999 to 2014, he was a Member of Finnish Parliament for the National Coalition Party (Kokoomus). Katainen was a Member of the Finnish Delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly from 2003 to 2007, a Member of the Administrative Council of the Finnish Broadcasting Company from 2003 to 2005, a Member of the Finnish Delegation to the Western European Union Parliamentary Assembly from 2004 to 2005 and a Deputy Member of the Finnish Delegation to the Nordic Council from 2001 to 2003. Jyrki Katainen has an M.Sc. in Political Science from the University of Tampere, Finland and he did an Erasmus exchange year at the University of Leicester, UK.

Karmenu Vella

Karmenu Vella

Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, European Commission **


Maltese nationality. Married with two children.

European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (2014-present)

- Minister for Tourism and Aviation (2013-2014)

- Chairman of the Orange Travel Group (2010-13)

- Group Coordinator for the Labour Party Parliamentary Group (2008-13)

- Executive Chairman of Corinthia's Mediterranean Construction Co (2008-10)

- Executive Chairman of Corinthia Hotels International (2001-07)

- Master's degree in Tourism Management (2000)

- Tourism Minister (1996-98)

- Industry Minister (1984-87)

- Minister for Public Works (1981-83)

- Member of the Maltese Parliament (1976-2014)

- Architect, Director in various companies (1973-81)

- Bachelor's degree in Architecture and Civil Engineering (1973)

** Indicates contribution by video message.

Anneleen  Van Bossuyt

Anneleen Van Bossuyt

MEP and Chair, IMCO Committee, European Parliament


Anneleen Van Bossuyt was elected to become a Member of the European Parliament in the beginning of 2015, but she has long been engaged with and involved in European politics and policy. As a member of the European Parliament, she uses her expertise to help realise the necessary changes in the European Union.

Anneleen grew up in Ghent, Belgium. After finishing secondary school, she studied law at the University of Ghent (2003) and European law at the University of Rennes in France (2004). Following her studies in France, she began work as an assistant at the European Institute of the Faculty of Law at Ghent University. In 2010, she moved to the N-VA’s research department, where she was responsible for European affairs. In this role Anneleen was very closely involved in the federal government negotiations in 2014.

Since her election to the European Parliament, Anneleen has served as a member of the committee for Internal Market and Consumer Protection and of the committee for Industry, Research and Energy. Anneleen’s focus has been on better regulation, encouraging entrepreneurship, the digital single market, supporting innovation and energy policy. Earlier this year, an analysis conducted by VoteWatch (an independent non-profit organisation), showed that Anneleen is the most influential Belgian MEP as regards European digital and telecoms policy. In June 2017, Anneleen was elected as chair of the IMCO-committee.

Richard Wilson

Richard Wilson

Sustainability Matrix Manager, IKEA


Richard is the Retail Sustainability Manager for Central Europe, with thirteen years sustainability and environmental management experience. His role is to help guide those countries to deliver the home furnishing retailer’s objectives to become a more sustainable company and retailer.

IKEA has been committed to sustainability for many years and through its ‘People and Planet Positive’ strategy using sustainability to drive innovation, transform its business and shape its investments. At the centre of the strategy is the goal to inspire and enable millions of people to live a more sustainable and healthier life at home, become resource and energy independent and create a better life for the many people and communities across the IKEA business.

Richard has a Master’s degree in Environmental Management and a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science & Mapping Science.

Markus Tkotz

Markus Tkotz

Managing Director, MARKANT


Markus Tkotz was born in 1966 in Munich. He holds a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Augsburg and a BA/MA in Economics from The Hopkins University, Baltimore.

Markus started his career at Procter & Gamble in Customer Business Development and later joined Roland Berger Strategy Consultants as a Senior Project Manager: Consumer Goods&Retail Competence Center.

Markus joined MARKANT Handels und Service GmbH in 2002 as their Managing Director, Central Settlement, Personal, Logistics. Since 2011, Markus is the Managing Director of MARKANT Handels und Industriewaren Vermittlungs AG.

Frans  Muller

Frans Muller

President, European Retail Round Table


Frans Muller has served as Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Integration Officer of Ahold Delhaize since July 2016. Since October 2016, Delhaize America, including the Food Lion and Hannaford brands, have reported to him on an ad interim basis. Prior to the merger between Ahold and Delhaize, he served as President and CEO of Delhaize Group from 2013.

Prior to joining Delhaize Group, Frans had been with the German retailer Metro AG for more than 15 years. From 2006 until 2013 he was a member of the Metro AG Management Board and in 2008 he was appointed as CEO of Metro Cash & Carry, where he served until 2013. He first joined Metro AG in 1997 as operations director, and then as managing director of its Dutch subsidiary, Makro. In 2002, Frans served as a board member of Metro Cash & Carry International and was appointed regional director for Eastern Europe and Russia. From 2004 to 2005, he served as president for Asia Pacific and Russia/Ukraine. In 2005, Frans was appointed CEO of Metro Group Buying.

Frans joined KLM Cargo in 1988 where he served in various management and executive positions in Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Vienna and Singapore.

Frans is the President of the European Retail Round Table (ERRT and serves on the board of directors at the Food Marketing Institute Inc.

Ian Jindal

Ian Jindal

Founder and Editor in Chief, Internet Retailing


A biography will appear here shortly.

Claire Bury

Claire Bury

Deputy Director General, DG CONNECT, European Commission


Claire Bury is currently Deputy Director General in DG CONNECT with responsibility for regulatory aspects of the Digital Single Market.

She was previously Director of Modernisation of the Single Market in Directorate General Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs.

Before that, she was Head of Unit for Company Law, Corporate Governance and Financial Crime in Directorate General Internal Market and Services, and Deputy Head of Cabinet to Internal Market Commissioners Charlie McCreevy and Frits Bolkestein.

An English barrister by training, she worked in the Commission's Legal Service and, before coming to Brussels, in the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Kenneth Bengtsson

Kenneth Bengtsson

President, EuroCommerce


Non-Executive President of EuroCommerce since March 2015, Kenneth Bengtsson began his retail career as a store manager of a local ICA supermarket in the south of Sweden. In 1995, he ran two larger stores in the Stockholm area. After successfully turning the stores into profitable units, he became the head of the hypermarket division of ICA in 1999. The following year, he was promoted to become CEO of ICA Sweden and in 2001, President and CEO of the entire ICA Group.

Apart from this successful career within the ICA Group, Kenneth Bengtsson has held numerous chairmanships. From 2005 to 2010, Kenneth Bengtsson was Chairman of the Board of Svensk Handel. From 2010-2013, he was Chairman of the Board of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise. Today he is Chairman of the Board of Systembolaget, The World Childhood Foundation, Ersta Diakoni, Clas Ohlson, Ahlsell AB and Mekonomen AB.

His passion for raising awareness and creating possibilities for young entrepreneurs is evident in his membership of King Carl XVI Foundation for Young Leadership, and Prince Daniel’s Fellowship and Entrepreneurial Programmes, as well as his Chairmanship of Young Enterprise Sweden.

Massimo Bongiovanni

Massimo Bongiovanni

President, Euro Coop


Massimo Bongiovanni is a life-long co-operator in his home country Italy. He is the Vice-President of the National Association of Consumer Co-operatives (ANCC) in Italy, which has merged several years ago with Coop Italia, which runs the co-operative retail business. He has had extensive work experience in the sphere of logistics, as well as academic research, where he holds two PhD degrees - one in the area of history and co-operative identity, and the second on the role and contribution of co-operatives to the development of Italy in the XX century.
In June 2016, Mr. Bongiovanni was elected President of Euro Coop for the mandate 2016-2018. Together with the new Presidency, he is leading a process of reinforcement of business collaboration amongst the national member organisations of Euro Coop.

Irmfried Schwimann

Irmfried Schwimann

Deputy Director General, DG GROW, European Commission


Since March 2016, Ms Irmfried Schwimann has been Deputy Director General in the European Commission's Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. She is responsible for the Modernisation of the Single Market, the Single Market for Public Administration and the COSME Programme.

Since July 2015 Ms Schwimann is member of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) steering board.

Previously, Ms Schwimann was Director in the European Commission's Directorate General for Competition; she was responsible for antitrust, merger and state aid control in the financial services sector.

Beforehand, Ms Schwimann was head of DG Competition's financial services antitrust unit (2006-2008) and head of DG Internal Market's Financial Services Policy unit (2003- 2006). Ms Schwimann also worked on retail financial services and payment issues within DG Markt (1999-2002) and was a member of Commissioner Bolkestein's Cabinet (2002- 2003).

Ms Schwimann studied law at the University of Linz/Austria as well as political science at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques in Paris. Before joining the Commission, Ms Schwimann worked for the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1984-1989) as well as for an Austrian Insurance group (1989-1999).

Ms Schwimann is married and has 3 children.

Kerstin Lindvall

Kerstin Lindvall

Chief Corporate Responsibility Officer, ICA Gruppen


Kerstin Lindvall is Chief Corporate Responsibility Officer within ICA Gruppen, with a strategic responsibility for the company strategy on sustainability as well as an operational responsibility for the area in ICA Sweden. She has been in this position since 2008, but has over 20 years experience within ICA. Since 2016, Kerstin is a part of the ICA Gruppen Management Team as well as the ICA Sweden Management Team. She has a Master of Science in Agriculture with a focus on environment, and has previously worked at the Swedish Board of Agriculture. Kerstin is a board member of the organic organisation KRAV as well as the advisory council to the Swedish Chemical Agency.

Ralf Gerking

Ralf Gerking

President, Independent Retail Europe


Ralf Gerking is the Executive Chairman (Vorstand) of EDEKA Verband e.V. He has been in this position since 2009. In May 2013, he was elected as the President of Independent Retail Europe (then UGAL).

He first came to the Edeka Verband e.V in 1998 as Advisor to the Managing Board (Vorstandsreferent). From 2004 to 2006, he was the Head of the Tax Department at the EDEKA Verband e.V. and was appointed in 2006 as the General Manager (Geschäftsführer) of the EDEKA foundation (Stiftung). From 2007 to 2009, he was the Divisional Head (Taxation and Duties) of the EDEKA Verband e.V.

Ralf Gerking is a qualified lawyer, accountant and auditor.

Hans Carpels

Hans Carpels

President, Euronics International


Hans Carpels has pursued a strong entrepreneurial career in the retail sector throughout his professional career, becoming the president of an international retail group and the CEO of a large national chain of retail outlets.
He has been involved in retail management for almost 30 years, heading up and then growing, via merger as well as through organic growth, a national Belgian chain of electronics retailers.

In 1990 he became involved in the wider European sphere co-founding a cooperative of independent retailers currently numbering 6,000. His long involvement, and later appointment as Vice President and further as President, provides him with a unique viewpoint of the retail sector within Europe, and beyond.

Kestutis Sadauskas

Kestutis Sadauskas

Director for Circular Economy and Green Growth, DG ENV, European Commission


Kęstutis Sadauskas was born in 1969 in Lithuania. In 1994 he graduated from Vilnius University with a Master’s Degree in International Relations from the Institute of Political Science and International Relations, and a Master’s Degree in Geography from the Faculty of Natural Science.

He started his professional career in September 1993 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, Vilnius, in the sector of Government's foreign relations, dealing with Lithuanian policies on the Council of Europe, Human Rights, UN, OSCE, NATO. In 1996, Kęstutis Sadauskas joined the Permanent Mission of Lithuania to the United Nations, New York, as Deputy Permanent Representative-Counselor responsible for general political affairs, UN Security Council activities and reform, and international security.

In 2000, he went back to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania as the Head of Unit of the EU Department, and later as a Director, responsible for Lithuanian policy towards the EU, EU accession negotiations of Lithuania, and Convention of Future of EU.

In August 2002, he joined the Permanent Representation of Lithuania to the EU, Brussels, as Minister-counsellor responsible for the coordination of EU accession negotiations of Lithuania, general coordination of activities in the COREPER, and negotiations of Financial Perspectives 2007-2013.

In September 2006, Kęstutis Sadauskas was appointed Head of the Representation of the European Commission in Vilnius, Lithuania. In February 2010, he joined the European Commission as a member of the Cabinet of Commissioner Šemeta and in April of the same year he became the Head of the Cabinet. 

From 1st November 2014 he assumed his role as the Director for Circular Economy and Green Growth.

Veronika Pountcheva

Veronika Pountcheva

Global Director Corporate Responsibility and Senior Vice President, METRO AG


Veronika Pountcheva, Global Director Corporate Responsibility & Senior Vice President of METRO AG, was born in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia.

Veronika studied at the Technical University and the National School of Economics, receiving a Master of Science and Master of Business Economics. Pursuing her academic career, she went to INSEAD (London Business School) and Cambridge University where she completed various postgraduate programmes.

Veronika started her professional career in engineering in 1988 at Vitosha Textile Company. After gaining experience in the textile industry, she changed to the chemical industry working for BASF Bulgaria in different representative positions from 1992 to 1998.

Since 1998 Veronika has worked for METRO and has experience in various management positions in Bulgaria, Ukraine, Serbia and Germany in Buying, Operations, Supply Chain and General Management. Thereby she gained experience in expansion, turnarounds and restructuring.

In 2015 she returned to her home country Bulgaria, where she worked as Managing Director of METRO Cash & Carry Bulgaria before taking over her current position as Global Director Corporate Responsibility & Senior Vice President.

In addition, Veronika is a passionate start up Mentor and Advocate for Diversity in her role as LEAD Advisory Board Member.

Jolanda Girzl

Jolanda Girzl

Director, ECC Sweden / Swedish Consumer Agency


Jolanda Girzl has 20 years of experience in Consumer Affairs and is active in both research and policy making in this area. Since December 2007, she is the Director of the European Consumer Centre (ECC) in Sweden. ECC Sweden is based at the Swedish Consumer Agency, the national authority with responsibility for consumer protection. Jolanda has been involved in many ECC-joint projects, for example on chargeback within the EU/EEA, counterfeit goods, and services directive, and she has led the projects on air passenger rights, e-commerce, trust marks and subscription traps.

Prior to her current position, she built up the local consumer advice centre in the Municipality of Karlstad, which is very successful and serves several municipalities.

Jolanda has studied Law at Uppsala University, specialising in commercial contract law. She is very interested in promoting a safe and responsible use of the Internet and mobile devices. She was awarded for her commitment and involvement in the Surf Calm campaign in Sweden for promoting safety and security on the web.

Jolanda participates in the User Advisory Board for the European H2020 innovation action CREDENTIAL, which is dedicated to developing a secure and privacy-preserving cloud-based identity provisioning and data sharing platform, enabling end-to-end security and authenticity in such systems. She is also participating in the ALERT project advisory group. ALERT assesses end-user awareness about how modern ICT consumes personal data. The project goal is the development of educative learning materials that increase awareness of consumers.

Signe D. Frese

Signe D. Frese

CSR Director, Coop Denmark


A biography will appear here shortly.


Joe Lynam

Joe Lynam

Business Presenter and Correspondent, BBC


Joe Lynam joined the BBC as a junior 'meet ‘n greet' in 2001 but has risen to become one of the most respected correspondents for business and economics news across all the BBC’s national and global outlets. Joe features regularly on the main One, Six and Ten O’clock TV news bulletins, BBC World News, Radio Five Live as well as regularly presenting the business news on Radio 4’s flagship Today programme.

Joe covered the financial and Eurozone crises first hand from Greece, Spain, Cyprus, Italy and Ireland for the BBC TV's key news programme Newsnight.
 He was also the BBC’s Europe correspondent in Brussels and is familiar with the workings and machinations of the EU institutions. He has sources at the very highest level of government and commerce and has the ability to explain complex issues in a digestible and sometimes witty way.

Joe has had a number of scoops including plans to sell RBS to Abu Dhabi, the news that Ireland was to get an IMF bailout in 2010 and the sale of Harrods by Mohammed Al Fayed. He was also the first to broadcast an Vishing phone call (voice phishing) as it happened on the BBC’s Moneybox programme.

Joe was awarded the prestigious ‘Wincott Prize’ for journalism in 2016. He was shortlisted for the ‘Journalist of the Year’ award by the Royal Statistical Society as well as ‘Broadcaster of the Year’ at the Headline Money Awards. He also lectures post graduate students in journalism at City University London.

Malcolm Harbour, CBE

Malcolm Harbour, CBE

Senior Adviser, Cabinet DN


Malcolm Harbour was elected as Conservative MEP for the UK West Midlands in 1999, and served 3 mandates. In 2009 he became Chairman of the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee. He was a key player in shaping policies and legislation for the single market, manufacturing industry, the digital economy, research and consumer protection. He did not seek re-election in 2014, and is now a Council Member at the University of Birmingham, Director of the Digital Policy Alliance, Senior Adviser to the European Policy Centre and to the EU policy consultants Cabinet DN. From 1967 to 1999, after graduating in Engineering from Cambridge, Malcolm worked in the motor industry, holding senior roles in new model development, marketing and sales, before launching his own research consultancy.

Sandrine Dixson-Declève

Sandrine Dixson-Declève

Senior Associate, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership


Sandrine Dixson-Declѐve has over 28 years of European and international policy and strategic experience with a particular focus on EU and international climate change, environmental, sustainability, green growth and energy policy and strategic programme development. She has built from scratch, fundraised and run EU offices and platforms bringing together business leaders, policy makers, academia and NGOs. Until recently, Sandrine was Chief Partnership Officer for UN Agency Sustainable Energy for All and prior to that the Director of the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group and the EU office of the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (2009-2016). During that period she was also appointed Executive Director of the Green Growth Platform bringing together EU Ministers and CEOs. She is a respected facilitator and professor on climate change, green growth, conventional and sustainable energy solutions and innovative ideas as well as has been the personal advisor to HRH The Prince of Wales, several MEPs, European Commission Presidents, Commissioners and officials, Governments in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, international organisations including OPEC, ADB, OECD, UNEP, USAID, UNFCCC, IEA and business leaders of large international, European and African companies.

Sandrine was recognised by GreenBiz as one of the 30 most influential women across the globe driving change in the low carbon economy and promoting green business. She is a distinguished member of The Club of Rome; a Senior Associate and faculty member of the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL); Chair of the INKEMIA Scientific Advisory Board; Member of The Guardian’s Sustainable Business Advisory Board; Member of the European Aluminium’s Sustainability Advisory Board; Member of the Climate KIC Advisory Board. She was Vice Chair, European Biofuels Technology Platform 2008-2016; Board member, We Mean Business 2014-2016 and on the Advisory Board of the Oil and Gas major Sasol from 2007-2010. She recently spoke on TEDx: The Sustainable Future series and has published numerous articles, book chapters and given presentations on green growth and competitiveness, energy, climate change, sustainable development, transport, conventional and alternative fuel quality legislation as well as on trade & environment.

European Retail Day Twitter



Thursday 30 November, 2017
09.30 to 18.30




Thon Hotel EU

Rue de la Loi, 75
1040 Brussels, Belgium

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Forum Europe