Wholesale Is Not Dead: the podcast that gets real fashion pros talking

Dedicated to fashion pros, as a strategy consulting agency Mars Branding Agency stands out for its originality. It produces the podcast Wholesale Is Not Dead (WIND), well known to young designers, brands, shops and wholesale specialists. The agency was founded by Julie Le Gall and Florent Tamisier: in an interview with Aline Abeya, Sales Manager France and Benelux at Webhelp Payment Services, they share their vision of the market.

 

What services does Mars Branding Agency offer?

Julie Le Gall: Our business strategy and communication consulting agency was founded in March 2020 – hence our name. [In French ‘mars’ means both March and Mars] We offer fashion brands solutions for managing distribution, communication and digital strategy issues.

Florent Tamisier: We support or manage projects, using support formats that range from individual coaching to implementation: community management, press relations, influence marketing, content creation (video, audio and photo), sales, and the development of a distribution and agent network in France and the rest of Europe, etc.

How long have you been working together? How does your individual experience complement that of the other?

Florent Tamisier: We worked together a few years ago in a subsidiary of the Eram group. I was the export sales director, in charge of around fifteen agents and fifteen distributors, with an export turnover of around €10 million. Julie was in marketing: the resulting synergy made us want to try our own wings, so we created Mars Branding.

Julie Le Gall: Among the footwear brands we had in our portfolio were Les Tropéziennes, which have already proved very successful in France and the rest of Europe. I worked there for six years as director of communications and marketing.
Florent and I had the pleasure of being part of this beautiful French brand’s revival, which in 2015 changed from wholesale to omni-channel. And this move to digital has worked really well, even at an international level. This explains our desire to support other brands who are eager to move from wholesale to digital, or simply to develop their business.

Regarding the Les Tropéziennes brand, what lessons have your learnt from its successful transition to digital?

Florent Tamisier: The general principle you would hear repeated until then in the fashion business was: “you must first have a presence on the digital market and, when the brand is strong enough, sell your product in stores”. But we have shown that this is not the case: thanks to the network that existed across the country, with a very strong brand on the ground, digital took off very quickly.

Julie Le Gall: In fact, it’s a very profitable strategy to start with wholesale on the ground, before switching to digital, with retailers bearing the costs involved. The Les Tropeziennes brand has become a textbook case!

What types of support do you offer young fashion designers?

Julie Le Gall: With our Coaching offer, we support many young designers and project leaders in the product, marketing and communication areas. They are right at the start of their brand development careers and are responsible for promoting very specific products and values. Often they manufacture in France and develop their products in a very competitive environment.
Essentially we advise them on brand and distribution strategies in the French leather goods, textile design, footwear and jewellery sectors.

Florent Tamisier: These young designers have many very specific questions: should I look to wholesale, and how do I go about it? Do I need to set up a store and in what form? Do I need to promote my product, my brand, or both? Is this the right time to promote my product on a particular channel? etc.
During support sessions lasting a few hours, which we make readily accessible, we share our expertise with them, based on our professional experience, our networks, and the exclusive contacts we have with highly experienced, specialised professionals.

And what is it you do for those brands?

Julie Le Gall: Brands have reached a stage of development where they are concerned with production and the regular promotion of their collections, and they often have a distribution network. Some are wholly digital and we can support them from the wholesale perspective, for example. With advice on marketing and business development.
Similarly we can support brands that already operate on a full wholesale basis and want to move to digital. In this case, our efforts focus on communication, marketing and e-commerce site development.

Leading fashion pros are interviewed in your highly successful “Wholesale Is Not Dead” podcast. What is the idea behind this?

Florent Tamisier: The idea came from a particular observation. We provide a lot of courses in incubators and support structures. For this audience, characterised by a particular desire for the sharing of professional experience, we have created a podcast format. This enables our students to follow an in-depth conversation, between highly experienced professionals… something hard to come by elsewhere!
In as little as 40 minutes, our students feel they are entering the real world of professionals, which perfectly complements the theory they are learning.
And it goes without saying that there are very different types of content: declarations of love for our profession, seldom heard truths, analyses or very specific advice… trade secrets often come at the end of the interview.
As a result of the very positive feedback from students we wanted to broadcast these podcasts to a wider audience. That’s why we created a series with the catchphrase Wholesale Is Not Dead (WIND), dedicated to developing the fashion industry at the physical point of sale.

Julie Le Gall: We have now published approaching 90 podcasts. These can be found on our website but also on all listening platforms such as iTunes podcast, Deezer, Spotify, Amazon and Google.
To give an example that will interest young designers, there is the podcast by Sophie Baron, from the Pom boutique in Marseille.
In terms of shops, retailers and independent stores, we have often heard mention of a sense of isolation. These professionals often work alone, or in very small teams. This a place where they can immerse themselves in a relevant live medium that “speaks” to them just where they are. It is also a very rich source of inspiration and motivation.

Why this name Wholesale Is Not Dead ? I must admit that it caught my attention the first time I saw it… and I share your analysis: there’s a vast Wholesale ecosystem out there and it is alive and well!

Florent Tamisier: Our in-depth knowledge of wholesale is precisely one of the things that makes our agency stand out from the rest. When we started two years ago, at the beginning of the first lockdown, we focused on digital. This was also in keeping with a global shift in the sector towards digital. So there was a lot of help that this channel had to offer.
With the closing down of shops and stores, some observers have claimed that wholesale is part of the “old model”. Especially since in-store sales had already been decreasing since around 2007. As for “100% retail”, which has been in vogue, we can also say that this has harmed Wholesale.
However, it seemed to us that this disaffection was a mistake: some companies make considerable profits from wholesale. This distribution channel also offers huge opportunities.
That’s why we decided to sing the praises of this market… taking the form of wholesale recommendations: do not make the mistakes of the past when it comes to either buying or selling, when touring with your product or in the management of your margins, for example.

Julie Le Gall: I would add that the most beautiful European shops are independent multibrands: they have a lot of soul and provide real value. Today, they are a great way to support product design and young designers.

How did Mars Branding and Webhelp Payment Services meet?

Julie Le Gall: We are very active on the market, we try to meet as many people and market players as possible. This curiosity resulted in our attending conferences on all sorts of subjects. A few months ago, a conference organised by Webhelp Payment Services caught our attention at Who’s Next: it was one of the few to talk about wholesale!

Florent Tamisier: It was also one of the few conferences that addressed the issues of sales, distribution and payments. Yet these are essential matters! We got together at once and then decided to talk regularly about the area of distribution in fashion, a subject that tends to go under the radar. And what we find is that this subject is now bringing more and more people together…

Is there an awareness of payment services in the fashion industry? What are the needs?

Florent Tamisier: Some ways of doing business, such as Cash & Carry, are changing. Cash & Carry used to be based on a simple principle: the absence of a payment deadline. But some market players are starting to look for greater flexibility and are turning to a provider like Webhelp Payment Services.
In more general terms, I would like to have known sooner about all the payment services that are available today!
I could have recommended them to market players in the sector who were faced with payment collection and document verification problems, and with a need to know the financial health of a particular market player… or knowledge of the market in general, including exports.

Julie Le Gall: What is important to us is that the wholesale community involved in the fashion industry continues to grow and develop its skills. We look forward to continuing to contribute to this with our podcasts!

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Webhelp opens its doors to sustainable, refurbished Sheffield site

We’re delighted to unveil the exciting transformation of our Sheffield office, having invested in a series of green initiatives along the way. 

The 72,000 sq.ft Nunnery Square site, located opposite the Hope Street conference centre, has been refurbished to include a number of sustainable facilities which has seen it gain ISO Energy Management Certification.  

Re-using over 75 tonnes of assets which has saved close to 500 tonnes of carbon, the overhauled building has natural as opposed to carbon-intensive mechanical ventilation. Other features include LED technology which will see the business use up to 50% less energy, as well as waterless technology saving up to 2.3million litres of water each year. 

Commenting on the refurbishment, Richard Carr, Head of Property, Environment and H&S at Webhelp said:  

“The Covid pandemic has led many businesses to re-evaluate what their people need. Webhelp’s vision for Nunnery Square has always been to create a more sustainable building and we’re delighted that our new infrastructure has not only created an aspirational place for our people to work, but that it also supports the UK’s drive to Net Zero. Webhelp’s Global ESG strategy is dedicated to creating more inclusive and sustainable growth and we believe that as corporate citizens, we can do more for the planet and future generations by reducing our carbon footprint.” 

We set about the extensive refurbishment in August 2021, with Doc Designs Ltd, L&P Projects Ltd and Carey Contracts Ltd. A spokesperson for Carey Contracts said: 

“Carey Contracts Ltd were delighted to be selected by Webhelp as their fit out partner for the Nunnery Square refurbishment project. Working close with Webhelp’s Facilities team we have created a new innovative and sustainable workplace for everyone to enjoy.” 

Further plans for our Nunnery Square site include the installation of charging points for electric vehicles, solar panels and a micro forest. 

As a result of ongoing growth, we have a number of new roles at our Sheffield base. If you’re interested in finding out more, we’re hosting an Open Evening for Sales Advisers on 24th February from 5pm. More information on all roles available can be found at  https://jobs.webhelp.com/careers/ 


Could a proper KYC strategy have prevented ‘The Tinder Swindler’?

‘The Tinder Swindler’, true crime documentary recently released on Netflix which highlights the rising importance of identity verification, and on a broader level, fraud prevention. Could a KYC procedure avoid this kind of situation? We have asked Guillaume Casterman, Director International Projects & Knowledge at Webhelp KYC Services for their take on it.

First, let’s start with a brief reminder on KYC (Know Your Customer). These processes are intended to validate individual user identity information through data collection and analysis. They are a regulatory requirement for many businesses, mostly in the financial and regulated sectors to tackle money laundering and fraud operations. KYC procedures are applied to a broader spectrum of businesses such as car rental, crypto transactions, online registries and many more, so why not dating apps? The recent Netflix documentary, ‘The Tinder Swindler’, showcases how easy it is for someone to fake their identity online, to manipulate and catfish innocent people. Shimon Hayut, an Israeli fraudster and convicted criminal, pretends to be a billionaire businessman named Simon Leviev. Through this fake identity, he seduces vulnerable women via dating apps and convinces them he is in danger and needs large amounts of money.

Could a KYC strategy have prevented ‘The Tinder Swindler’ from scamming innocent women worldwide? Well, it could have made it harder at least.

How? The first thing to consider is that the various loans and credit cards were not in his name, and have not been contracted through identity theft. This makes it hard to prevent. But then there are two types of money lending: direct from his victims’ savings, and through loans and credit cards that his victims contract in their name. What could have raised the alarms? Opening a large number of relatively small credits through different banks should be limited by a credit-check before lending the money, and not only a revenue check. This would limit the amount that can be swindled. Then there is the credit card. When the credit card that he is using gets maxed out, which happens fairly quickly and frequently, the maximum amount available is raised by sending a fake payslip to justify that the account owner has enough money. This is where a good KYC onboarding could have helped. If the proof of revenue had been cross-checked (tax receipt checked through the official website, for instance), the newly provided payslip with an absurdly high amount, compared to what was registered during the onboarding should have raised a red flag. It is then possible to ask for more documents, to check directly with the company if this employee exists, even to cross check the employer against a database of similar alerts raised by other banks in different countries. Bear with me, this is not an easy check. But it can be possible when externalizing the KYC procedure to a global expert who can use their own fraud database, on top of external fraud listing sources. With this additional internal check, it is possible to identify when a payslip has been used in multiple similar cases, and when some of them have led to fraud sanctions. This could have helped limit the amount that the victim was able to raise, and make it harder for the swindler to scam those women.

Without a solid identity authentication procedure, users are left vulnerable to potential fraudsters and malicious actors.

In August 2021, Tinder announced that users will be able to verify their ID on the app in the ‘coming quarters’, in addition to the existing photo verification feature. At first it will be on a voluntary basis. ID verification will also be used to cross-reference data such as the sex offender registry in regions where that information is available. Although this investment in security features is promising, Tinder doesn’t say if this will ever become an obligation for its new user to verify their ID. The other question left is, what about the 75 million existing active users?

To be prevented, elaborated fraud requires elaborated checks. Internal resources and tools are usually not enough to prevent fraud, which is why calling on a global KYC partner with specific expertise and know-how can be the right solution.

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Webhelp Launches New Solutions for the Automotive Sector

Paris, France – 21, February 2022 – Webhelp, a leading global provider of customer experience and business solutions, has launched three automotive-specific services to support the industry’s innovation and growth.

The roll-out builds upon Webhelp’s 20+ years of global experience providing customer experience and sales-oriented services to 1,300 customers, including key players in the automotive and mobility sector.

New products include:

  • Automotive contact centers – Multilingual teams of specialist automotive experts deliver ‘next-generation’ customer service for omnichannel customers, combining industry-leading product knowledge with advanced technologies, operating practices and data analysis tailored to meet automotive companies’ specific needs.
  • Digital dealerships – Specially-trained automotive experts operate online sales channels on behalf of automotive brands, combining expert product knowledge with the highest level of customer service. It’s the industry’s way of nurturing direct relationships with customers, many of whom expect to buy online.
  • Offline experiences and deliveries – Dedicated teams organize the offline experiences and car deliveries which remain critical for the delivery of a complete omnichannel experience.

Carole Rousseau, Business Unit Director for Automotive & Mobility at Webhelp France, and responsible for key clients such as Stellantis and VW, said:

“This is a pivotal time for the automotive industry as brands manage unprecedented change across consumer behavior, legislation, standards, and operations; all while trying to safeguard squeezed margins and profits.

“We believe that the ability to provide next-generation customer experiences will soon define ‘winners and losers’ within automotive and have invested heavily in the sector, including the recent recruitment of senior hires.”

To support the launch of the new services, Webhelp has appointed two senior experts, who bring over 40 years’ collective experience helping leading retailers and car manufacturers to drive omnichannel sales, digitize products and services, and maximize eCommerce opportunities, all around the omnichannel needs of modern car buyers.

Tony Patterson, the Group Business Development Director for Automotive & Mobility, added:

“We provide automotive brands with the ability to future proof their businesses; developing the capabilities to support customers adopting new products and services and new ways to consume the products. We see enormous potential for the automotive sector to realize significant value and benefits in terms of agility and flexibility through our “best-shoring” approach, complemented by multilingual hubs to meet the resource centralization needs of clients. We are optimizing customer service today and establishing new sales channels ready for tomorrow, all while balancing operational costs and risks.”

Tomas Honz, the new Group Head of Solutions for Automotive & Mobility, led the development of this new proposition, which comprises bespoke tools and models, designed to help clients respond to the omnichannel needs of customers and build teams of the right people in the right place, supported by the latest technology and use of best practices from retail to leverage data and insights.

With key people, technologies, and infrastructure in place, Webhelp is ready to deliver next-level services for automotive which maximize time, cost savings, and become a partner of choice to support growth at a pivotal time within the industry.

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Webhelp Receives Prestigious Learning Award for their Onboarding Programme

Webhelp has been recognized at the prestigious 2022 The Learning and Performance Institute Awards, picking up Bronze for Onboarding Programme of the Year.

The Learning Awards, presented at a ceremony in London on 17th February, celebrate achievements in workplace learning from across a range of sectors. The judges recognised Webhelp as an organisation that has built an exemplary and effective Onboarding Programme that demonstrates consistent high quality and innovation, as well as a defined and measured impact on our business.

Through the combined work of their Quality, Insight, Continuous Improvement, Change and Operational Teams, Webhelp has built a colleague centric employee on-boarding programme focussed on enhancing colleague and customer experience, delivered through a new and innovative game-based approach. The new on-boarding programme, which launched in June 2021, was first piloted in onsite, virtual and hybrid operations and has since expanded the reach of Webhelp’s Operational Learning team, allowing them to flex even more to the different needs of colleagues and clients.

Declan Hogan, Director of Operational Training at Webhelp, had this to say of the win:

“The team were delighted to receive this recognition from The Learning and Performance Institute, which shows how we have moved forwards as a training team, to being a learning provider.  As we strive to deliver the best in class support to our colleagues, customers and partners, it validates our efforts and highlights how through consultation and effective communication, Webhelp designs leading, micro learning. The implementation of our learning eco-system, academy and performance coaching have shown how our on boarding methodology and practices sets Webhelp apart as an employer and how we’re truly a team of people first, passionate game changers.”

Through their in-depth understanding of the impact Covid-19 has had on traditional learning, continually evolving their immersive onboarding programme remains high on the agenda for Webhelp.


Webhelp Named a Leading Impact Sourcing Provider at the 2022 Global Impact Sourcing Awards

Paris, France – 18, February 2022Webhelp, a leading global provider of customer experience (CX) and business solutions, has been recognized for its pioneering leadership in Impact Sourcing at this year’s Global Impact Sourcing Awards presented by the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP) in partnership with The Rockefeller Foundation.

The awards celebrate initiatives designed to bring more employees into the workplace from disadvantaged backgrounds. Webhelp received the Impact Sourcing Provider Award for its strategy and approach to scaling its model globally. Since its founding, Webhelp has been strategically deliberate about how impact sourcing models are scaled and embedded into the fabric of its business and culture.

This includes setting a clear impact hiring strategy and measurable objectives across its group. For example, in 2021, 4,400+ new recruits came from impact hiring initiatives. In 2022, Webhelp aims to set impact hiring as a full operating model in every new opening country. In addition, the business is committed to extending this operating model to every existing country by 2023 while making sure that 10 to 15% of new hires are impact sourced by 2025.

Some examples of impact sourcing projects where Webhelp has seen real results include programs to bridge English language barriers, hiring disadvantaged youth, reintegration initiatives to help female prisoners get into work, and building an ecosystem to support migrant and refugee employability. As a purpose-driven business, Webhelp’s investment in each initiative ensures it can deliver on its ESG commitments while also providing access to an untapped talent pool that can support future business success.

Webhelp’s strategy encompasses a holistic model for impact objectives across its employees, clients, and suppliers, and into the ecosystems where they work, recognizing that procurement supply chains can create broader forms of impact in areas where Webhelp chooses to invest in local communities. To enable these efforts, the company also implemented a leading procurement platform, EcoVadis, to help objectively assess areas of impact sourcing with 6,000 suppliers across the group.

Sandrine Asseraf, Group Managing Director, Americas & ESG at Webhelp, said:

“Webhelp believes in impact sourcing as a holistic and systemic approach to business, meaning we collaborate and partner with all our people, our clients, specialist impact partners and suppliers to achieve meaningful results. As a people-first business, we put this approach and commitment at the heart of our business strategy, recognizing its importance in driving real and sustainable change across the regions in which we operate. It is a long and ambitious journey, and we cannot wait to do more.”


Know Your Customer

Three questions on... Know Your Customer

Jonathan Cowey, Webhelp UK’s Business Director for Regulated Services, talks us through the importance of Know Your Customer in 2022


Can you introduce yourself?

My name’s Jonathan Cowey, Business Director for Regulated Services here at Webhelp. I’ve spent the last few years really helping organizations transform their operations, particularly in the regulated space.


Why is Know Your Customer important right now?

KYC always has and will be important, but as the world becomes even more complex, whether that be data availability and integration, new regulatory pressures or, for example, the year on year increase in sanctioned individuals, Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) and fraud that we see, it has never been more important to get this right.

And I think what also puts this at the forefront of many conversations and discussions that we’re having is the amount of recent failings that we’ve seen. The regulators have issued fines in the hundreds of millions of pounds in the last twelve months, because organizations simply didn’t get this right. And the subsequent cost to remediate and clean all of that up are also massively impacting organizations’ balance sheets.


What should firms be thinking about next when it comes to Know Your Customer?

The real key here, in my view, is striking the right balance between technology and humans. I don’t see any one solution where everything is automated, because of the complexity and the risks that are involved.

But we also know that we can’t solely rely on people. And so, bringing together a strategy that augments these two elements wrapped up in a KYC and regulatory expertise, in my view, will be key to getting this right in 2022.

Now, in order to do that, partnerships with organizations who do this really well and at scale will be actually a real critical consideration. And I think exploring that will really help organizations for new complexities that will no doubt arise this year. But I also think this will help get ready for new regulatory expectations.

Continuous KYC is a good example of that, which we know many of our clients are grappling with today.


Jonathan Cowey is a Business Director with extensive experience delivering operational and customer journey transformation projects within the retail banking sector, including particular specialisms in leading transformations in fraud and anti-money laundering environments.  

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Webhelp named the Most Innovative CX Provider

Leading Research and Consulting firm Frost & Sullivan names Webhelp as the Most Innovative CX Outsourcing Provider

Webhelp has been recognized as an industry leader in Frost and Sullivan’s 2021 Frost Radar™ report, ranked as the most innovative CX organization overall, and in the top two for its consistent growth.

The Frost Radar™ measures growth rates in addition to absolute revenues and combines them with factors including innovation scalability, R&D, product portfolio and customer alignment. Webhelp scored top marks ahead of 18 other companies in the analysis, in a field of more than 250 industry participants across Europe.

Federico Teveles, CX Industry Analyst at Frost & Sullivan said:

“Webhelp continues to outperform the industry through its next-generation solutions portfolio, powered by gold-standard CX advisory, advanced analytics, AI, automation, and omnichannel technology. By expertly combining this with their dedicated and skilled workforce, they continue to provide exceptional customer experience to meet shifting consumer expectations.”

Frost & Sullivan highlights Webhelp as having one of the industry’s most forward-looking strategies for designing tailored customer experience operations, creating its proprietary Anywhere design methodology which incorporates best-shoring and new working models alongside a comprehensive platform that underpins this.

Also noted was its broad offering of proprietary solutions such as VoC, augmented agent, call recording and transcription, machine translation, and people analytics. In addition, the company was recognized for supplementing its internal R&D efforts with dozens of partnerships to round out its technological offerings.

The report validates the significant growth Webhelp has made during the past year by focusing on developing its digital transformation capabilities and CX consulting to create value-driven end-to-end customer journeys.

Olivier Duha, CEO and Co-Founder of Webhelp, said:

“We are incredibly proud that Frost & Sullivan has named Webhelp as Europe’s top CX innovator. They have recognized both our leading tech capability and our Webhelp Anywhere proposition which combines best-shoring with new delivery models – such as homeworking, hybrid models and GigCX.

It is this game-changing mindset that enables client innovation and drives our continued global growth. With Webhelpers now in more than 55 countries around the world, we are very well placed to maximize impact for our clients, our people and the communities in which we work.”


Webhelp Appoints Helen Murray as Chief Client Officer for UK Region

Webhelp are pleased to announce the appointment of Helen Murray to the new role of Chief Client Officer for the UK Region.

Helen has been with Webhelp since 2012, and brings with her extensive experience from leading in-house and client-side customer service operations from her time as Chief Customer Solutions Officer. Most recently, she led Webhelp’s business development function and the delivery of client differentiation through enhanced customer experience.

David Turner, Chief Executive Officer, comments:

“I am delighted that Helen Murray has been appointed to the role of Chief Client Officer and in doing so, joins the UK Regional Board.  Helen has played a significant part over the last 10 years in the growth of our business as Chief Client Solutions Officer and is ideally placed to further develop client partnerships that add real value to our clients and their customers.”

Before joining Webhelp 10 years ago, Helen was Director of Consulting at Verint Systems for five years, and prior to that was Director of Customer Service and Director of Outsourced Contact Centres for BT Global Services.

Helen is passionate about ensuring Webhelp supports clients in doing everything possible to intelligently listen to customers, and delivering solutions they need first time. As Chief Client Officer, Helen will be responsible for further strengthening client relationships, ensuring Webhelp continues to live up to their award winning reputation for putting the client at the heart of their business.

Sharing her thoughts on her new role, Helen said:

 “I’m thrilled to take on the position of Chief Client Officer. My 10-year relationship with Webhelp and extensive experience in Client Solutions will be beneficial to further developing existing client partnerships and creating new ones, whilst delivering outstanding experiences for their customers through new thinking and solutions.”


Webhelp nominated for 4 awards at 2022 CCA Awards

We’re delighted to announce that Webhelp has been nominated for four awards at 2022’s Contact Centre Association (CCA) Awards.

The CCA awards recognise and celebrate those companies who have achieved extraordinary success or individuals who have shown extraordinary leadership, passion and commitment.


Webhelp’s nominations are as follows:

 

Excellence in skills, learning & development

Webhelp

Outstanding flexible working programme

Webhelp

Team of the year

Webhelp’s Operational Support team

Excellence in business process outsourcing collaboration

Webhelp & Vodafone


David Turner, CEO of Webhelp UK, said:

“I am absolutely delighted to see the efforts our people have made being recognised across such a wide variety of nominations. The CCA awards are among the most prestigious in the industry, and these nominations reflect a wider recognition of the skills and successes that are on display from these incredibly talented groups of people.”


The winners will be announced at a gala dinner in Glasgow on April 27 – the first in-person event since before the pandemic.