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Karen Millen CEO awarded honorary doctorate

Lauretta Roberts
14 November 2017

Karen Millen CEO Beth Butterwick has been awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Huddersfield in recognition of her services to retail and business.

Butterwick, who has been CEO of Karen Millen since August of last year, is credited with reviving the fortunes of Huddersfield fashion firm Bonmarché where she was previously CEO. Her degree was conferred upon her in a graduation ceremony at which Dr Tracy Cassidy, reader in fashion and textiles, delivered an oration on Butterwick's career.

“Beth has had a tremendous impact on the fashion business throughout her career, which has included senior corporate positions with some of the world’s highest-profile fashion retailers" Dr Cassidy said.

After starting her career with Marks & Spencer, Butterwick then went on to occupy key roles with Gap and Amsterdam-based MS Mode. In 2011, she returned to the UK to take up the role of brand director at Bonmarché, but eight weeks later the business was put into administration.

“However, Beth, now as CEO, led the successful sale of the business to Sun Europe LLP private equity and over the next five years at Bonmarché, she led the company through a massive turnaround, returning the business to profitability, rationalising its operations and finally successfully steering a stock market flotation in November 2013,” added Dr Cassidy.

After her honorary doctorate was conferred by University of Huddersfield Vice-Chancellor Professor Bob Cryan, Butterwick told the audience of graduates and their families that she felt “honoured, privileged and humbled all at the same time”. She added that she regarded her five years at Bonmarché as the pinnacle of her career.

“What I found in the people and county of Yorkshire is a determination to get things done when things are really tough, an incredible entrepreneurial spirit and warm welcoming people who help you get through your darkest days as well as celebrating your achievements,” she said.

Her advice to graduates was to find their passion and their purpose: “Happiness, success, prosperity and a great sense of achievement will follow.”

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