About the BDS


Established in 1947 the British Display Society was created to encourage and promote the highest standards of Visual Merchandising design and of display installation throughout commerce, industry and indeed wherever display techniques were utilised. This embraced many different applications – Retail Windows, 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 display managers, college lecturers and consultants. Many are engaged in the related fields of sales promotion, Point-of-Sale display manufacture and exhibition design. Some practice as freelance designers.

Members are backed by the Society’s ‘Pathway to Professional Recognition’ through which affixes are awarded to members whose work and achievements are judged to meet the high standards demanded by the Society.

BDS Members

Executive Council

Cliff Messiter President: (and former Chairman) Cliff Messiter FBDS 

After leaving Southend School of Art in 1959, Cliff worked with a number of leading London advertising agencies with whom he achieved director status during the 1960’s and early 1970’s. At that time he became Chairman of APSA the Association of Point-of-Sale Advertising and a member of the BDS.

In 1973 Cliff opened the doors of his own studio, Messiter Creative Services, and has been proud to work across the years for many major national and international accounts. The studio’s work embraces design and copywriting for packaging, display, point-of-sale, exhibitions, and sales literature.

Cliff has assisted students in terms of their education and enthusiastically supports the educational work undertaken by the BDS.

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.

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.

Michael Waller FBDS, FRSA

Michael’s professional career commenced at a leading London Advertising Agency. This was followed by a period as joint display manager for a large retail chain of Wine Merchants. He then started a Design and Display Consultancy specialising in designing product presentations and exhibition stands.

Projects have included working for a variety of well-known retail and industrial clients whose installations were at major exhibition and conference centres throughout the UK and Europe.

Linked with this is a close involvement in education, including being a college examiner and assessor, and more recently he has been running display and craft sessions for schools, churches and a mental health unit.

  Director & Treasurer: 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.

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 Stammers MA, PG Cert

Edward is the Course Leader of BA (Hons) Fashion Visual Merchandising and Branding at the London College of Fashion and has an MA in Fashion Merchandise Management and PG Cert in Education. He has 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. His research interests centre on the function and perception of the mannequin form and the challenges to the mannequin that are developing from the increased use of digital technology within the fashion retail environment.

  Janet Billings ABDS

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.

  David Anthony ABDS

David Anthony has been a Visual Merchandiser for 30 years and begun his career in Adelaide and Sydney, Australia. His former background is fashion and homewares where he learnt the art of Visual Merchandising and Styling through department stores and boutiques across the globe. Moving into the world of independent theatre and cable television he is now London based working freelance in the café, food & retail lifestyle sector as well as the world of fashion and homewares.