About the BDS
The last 50 years of the British Display Society are logged in the Victoria & Albert Museum’s archive.
Established in 1947 the British Display Society was created to encourage and promote the highest standards of Visual Merchandising, Design and Display, Retail Windows & Interiors, Point-of-Sale Display, Exhibitions and Museum Displays.
Across the years the Society has constantly maintained its professional standing and adapted to changing times within both education and within the retail world it seeks to service and enhance.
Former BDS students work throughout the U.K. and indeed throughout the world as VM Managers, College Lecturers, Designers and Consultants.
Although we are based in the UK our members are worldwide!
Meet the BDS team members!
Professionals who have worked in the Visual Merchandising industry for many years run and manage the BDS. It is our passion and enthusiasm for VM and Store Presentation that drives us to ensure that Visual Merchandising is not a dying art.
Director & Chair: Iain Kimmins FBDS Iain is a creative Visual Merchandising Executive within the Display & Visual Merchandising Industry with over twenty years’ experience. He has worked for London’s top department stores including Harrods and Selfridges as well as Tangs in Singapore. Having studied with the BDS he started his career as a Junior VM progressing up to Head of Visual Merchandising. He has worked on several freelance projects in New York, China and Saudi Arabia and now runs a Visual Merchandising Consultancy called Creative Download. His passion and enthusiasm for retail is not only about being creative with all kinds of merchandise, concepts, brands, events and merchandise but being commercially aware for the retail sector.
Director & Vice Chairman: Helen Goodwin FBDS Helen studied with the British Display Society in the heart of London’s West End back in the early 1980’s. Her first job was as part of the display team for DH Evans in Oxford Street handling a wide range of merchandise in the windows & interiors. Following this she started her own Visual Design Consultancy in London, then moved the business to York continuing to design & install window displays up and down the country. Due to a demand for display training Helen created ‘Made You Look!’ where she passes on her knowledge and experience to those wishing to learn the basic skills of display. Alongside Janet they work with Business Improvement Districts, Councils, Independent retailers and various other groups helping businesses to look their best at all times.
Senior Course Tutor & Archivist (Former Chairman): Alan Springall FBDS Not quite born in a trunk at the back of the prop room but it almost seems like that. Alan has enjoyed the variety and camaraderie of working in display, VM, exhibitions and prop making since he was 16. Subsequently he has become a Further Education lecturer on BDS and BTEC display & exhibition courses which have enabled him to pass on his enthusiasm for the industry to the uninitiated. He joined the BDS in 1976 and has been involved in its operation ever since, and in 2015 was elected to be Chairman of the Society
Nigel Fisher ABDS An IT professional since 1979 Nigel has for the last 20 years been producing web sites and shopping carts for small businesses. It is his belief that the use of web sites for sales moves the internet firmly into the VM and POS arenas. The BDS should be promoting excellence within web sites as well as on the shop floor, enabling the BDS to address the entire sales material of any retailer. Nigel also engages in developing exhibition stands for his own businesses and in connection with his hobbies. Having for many years hosted the BDS web sites and supported and developed the internal systems Nigel joined the council in 2013 intent on further supporting the BDS as a whole. In 2016 Nigel became Treasurer
Janet Billings FBDS Janet studied with the British Display Society back in the early 1980’s. Janet started working for a company designing and building props for use in window displays for Debenhams, Selfridges and Harrods. In 1985 she set up her own Display Company offering a full service, from design through to installation of exhibition stands and window displays. Janet has worked for an extensive range of clients from small independent retailers to large national companies both in the UK and abroad, Wedgwood & Portmeirion being just two of them. She works alongside Helen in ‘Made You Look!‘ with BIDs, Councils, Independent retailers and various other groups helping businesses to look their best at all times.
Liz Johnston FBDS Liz has worked in the Visual Merchandising industry for almost 40 years and has been a freelance stylist since 1982. She studied at the College for the Distributive Trades in London from 1975 gaining her qualification through the BDS. She went on to work for Russell and Bromley in the West End, Simpson’s of Piccadilly, and Heal’s gaining a wealth of experience and enabling her to take her skills in to retail shops and exhibitions. She is passionate about bright colours and detail, and helping the local high street retailers by using her vast experience in guiding them to achieve the results they seek
Edward is the Programme Director of Fashion Marketing and Branding at the London College of Fashion and has an MA in Fashion Retail Merchandise Management and PG Cert in Education. Edward worked in the visual merchandising industry for twenty-five years, managing global visual merchandising and marketing campaigns as Design and Project Manager for Rootstein Display Mannequins. Current research interests centre on the function and perception of the mannequin form and the challenges regarding the use of mannequins within the fashion retail environment as a result of the increased use of in-store digital technology.
Barbara Chapman (FBDS) is a highly experienced and creative freelance VM running her own creative consultancy, with over thirty five years’ experience in the industry.
She brings an understanding of how to deliver brands across every touch-point within the retail environment – in store, windows, press shows, launch parties, styling, and online and photographic shoots. She believes that visual merchandising can achieve commercial success, by inspiring customers through innovative, creative and unique brand experiences. Using skills in creative conceptualisation, project management and both old school crafting and hi-tech execution, she delivers unique and motivating retail environments whilst still bringing sound commercial sense to every project.
She has worked with many luxury brands including Selfridges, Burberry, Mulberry, Jo Malone, Harvey Nichols, Ralph Lauren , Jaeger; and on the high street, Oasis, Top Shop, Marks & Spencer, Jigsaw and Alexon.
She is an experienced Associate VM lecturer and has recently become a Fellow of the British Display Society Executive Board.
John Abbate FBDS, with international experience in visual merchandising and retail store design, is passionate about retail and how to find solutions in this ever-changing market place.
After 20 years of working for such brands as, Ralph Lauren, Levis & Alfred Dunhill, in America & Europe, he then moved to Shanghai; starting his own retail consulting agency, John Abbate Studio, was Visual Merchandising professor at Mod’Art and then Creative Director at Design Overlay retail design agency.
Returning to London, John joined Northbanks (http://northbanks.co.uk), a retail design agency, using his experience to help brands develop and implement their retail identities. Also a member of Save the High Street, he has joined the BDS to support retail through VM.
Karl McKeever is a revered retail expert. He is founder and managing director of retail transformation agency Visual Thinking, which specialises in improving store standards, the customer experience and retail performance. He is retail’s trusted voice on issues including brand delivery, visual merchandising, team engagement and in-store operations.
As a well-respected global consultant, Karl regularly contributes to retail news stories and writes several columns for leading industry magazines. He appeared as an on-screen judge in the UK version of ‘The Apprentice’, and as a retail expert on three series of BBC show ‘Alex Polizzi: The Fixer’.