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Global Retail Advisors
Senior Advisors

Maureen C. Atkinson
Senior Partner, Research Insights 

Maureen Atkinson uses research to create the insights that show clients where the customer is going, how retailers are responding globally, and how they can increase their revenues by anticipating these changes.  

During her career at J.C. Williams Group, she has managed numerous studies that have provided data for positioning or repositioning plans, new store format evaluation, new concept development and brand assessment among many other assignments. In addition, she has authored and co-authored books and white papers on retail research. 

She joined the company in 1988, after a career in research, store operations and merchandising with a large department store chain, to set up the company’s research practice.  Her perceptive approach has brought new revelations to her many clients.

She has a business degree from the Schulich School of Business at York University and is a past board member of the International Downtown Association where she chaired the Information Committee.  She is also a founding member of the Canadian Research Group of the International Council of Shopping Centers and a member of the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association.  She is an active board and committee member on several professional and charitable organizations where she uses the governance learning when she got her ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors.


Suthamie Poologasingham
Director, Marketing and Research
Senior Advisor, E-commerce and Omni-channel

Many businesses believe that the online channel is a simple-to-use and low-cost approach to improving the customer experience. Without a clear strategy they lose money, time and customers in the process. Suthamie Poologasingham, a digital expert and advisor, helps clients understand the complexities behind e-commerce, the various options involved, and can determine which path will be the most successful for any line of business. Suthamie understands the true costs involved so that clients are prepared for a total investment, including hidden costs that service providers fail to mention. By being informed and having a clear strategy, your business is armed for success online.

Going beyond an online presence, do you know how to make your business or brand connect with your customers? Do you know how to move beyond selling and create loyal brand followers? The digital channel is one of the most important mediums to businesses today: not because it provides access to new markets but because your competitors have an equal chance at garnering the loyalty of your customers.

Suthamie provides retailers with the best online and omni-channel experience that will make their customers happy. Your customers are already buying because of your products and services, but if a similar product comes to market tomorrow, what prevents them from switching in this fluid digital world? Through a solid strategy, Suthamie will help you to maintain a strong and growing presence online.

New and exciting customers will become loyal customers, and loyal customers mean repeat business, lower competitive threats and a stronger brand image online.

Suthamie is a digital media and omni-channel commerce researcher and advisor with J.C. Williams Group. She helps businesses plan for competitive online stores and to turn their customers into loyal consumers through J.C. William Group’s methodology of reiterative and proactive learning. She researches and analyzes the digital presence of multiple brands, retailers and non-traditional retailers (e.g., hospitals, museums, universities, etc.) in order to understand what makes for a successful online retailing environment for the end consumer. Her MBA from the Schulich School of Business and over ten years of experience in web development and design, supplement her expertise. With her knowledge your business will create a cohesive shopping experience online and remain competitive. 

New and existing customers will become loyal customers, and loyal customers mean repeat business, lower competitive threats and a stronger brand image online.


Jean Rickli
Senior Advisor, Sales and Operations, Real Estate, Strategic Planning

Many retailers are being challenged by the hyper-competitive environment, new business models, and omni-channel retailing. Jean helps his clients understand the new world of retailing and business transformation. His broad business background and years of senior management experience help consumer-connected businesses innovate and succeed.  

For over 30 years, Jean has held key positions in the Hotel Industry, Restaurants, Real Estate, and Retail sectors. He created and executed strategic plans and expansion projects for many companies at a national and provincial level. His vast experience enables him to quickly gain the confidence of the teams he is working for with his tact and diplomacy insuring all deliverables are met on target.

His client and work related experience includes companies such as: Videotron, Videotron Le SuperClub, Rogers, Jacob, Famous Players Cinemas, Oberfeld-Snowcap, Black Photo, Pizza Hut, World Expo '88 (Australia), and Canadian-Pacific Hotels.

Jean has a Bachelors degree in Hotel Management from the Hotel School of Geneva, Switzerland, and executive training from the Centre of International Research and Studies in Management (CIREM) from the University of Montreal. He has both Canadian and Swiss citizenships, and is fluent in English, French, and German.


John A. Torella
Senior Advisor, Marketing

We all got our start in business in retail. We’re retailers from way back, so we have the benefit of long-term experience and knowledge, which we constantly use when processing the ever-changing flow of information out there.” – John T.
More and more retail success is about being unique, different, and special. If you are not differentiated, you are a commodity and interchangeable.

Relevant differentiation is the world of retail Branding and the world of retail Branding is John Torella’s world.

With over three decades of experience with some of the world’s most successful Brands—Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), Mark’s, Holt Renfrew, Harry Rosen, Sobeys—John brings a sense of trust and confidence.

His credibility is enhanced by his books: Evolution of Retail Marketing, re|Think Retail Branding, Whole-being Retail Branding, and Stop Talking Start Doing Retail Branding.

John is a graduate of the Kellogg Graduate School of Management Communications Strategy program, the Brand Value program at Harvard Business School and Tuck School program on Strategic Brand Management.

His quest for thought leadership in retail Branding enables him to be a trusted advisor to his clients.

In 2006, John was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Marketing Association (CMA) for his contribution to Canadian marketing and in 2012 was the recipient of Honorary Life Membership to the CMA for his outstanding service and contributions. 


John C. Williams
Senior Partner, Strategy and New Concepts

Developing creative solutions to strategic opportunities has been the sweetest part of my 30+ year career. When a client implements a recommendation and realizes the benefits, for me that is the 'icing on the cake'!” – John W.
Since starting this consulting company in 1974, John Williams has been recognized as one of North America’s retail gurus. J.C. Williams Group serves retailers, manufacturers of consumer goods, shopping center developers, downtowns, and governments. John’s specialty is in retail and distribution strategy, real estate, and urban revitalization.

Since 1974, John has consulted to a wide range of clients where his work is known for its practical yet creative approach to achieving results. Strategic and new concept development projects for retailers include work for the BC Liquor Distribution Branch, Henry Birks & Sons, Le Chateau, Goodwill (industries), Benjamin Moore, MasterCard, Walmart, Levi Strauss, Bell Canada plus many smaller retailers. Real estate projects include The Dubai Mall, Deerfoot Meadows, and many years of work for The Rouse Company, Cadillac Fairview, Oxford Properties, and Ivanhoe Cambridge. Urban revitalization consulting has taken John to cities such as Miami, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., plus many more mid-sized and smaller cities.

John has recently completed the book Getting Retail Right! for the ICSC and is teaching at the ICSC’s University of Shopping Centers. As well, John has co-authored A Guide to Retail Success for the National Retail Federation, Washington D.C., as well as Building a Winning Retail Strategy for the Retail Council of Canada, and Marketing Main Street for Heritage Canada. He is a frequent speaker at industry and association gatherings across the continent.

John graduated from the University of British Columbia, and with an MBA from top-ranked the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.


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