Retail expert Teresa Wickham to deliver RAU’s prestigious Bledisloe Lecture

25 April 2024

A well-known retail expert, who was the first female Director of Safeway Stores and has also been an adviser to Sainsbury’s, will be delivering this year’s Bledisloe Lecture at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) on Wednesday 8th May.


Teresa Wickham, who is also a regular interviewee on television and radio regarding supply chain issues and retailing, has more than 40 years’ experience of managing and developing complex areas of business, primarily in food, agribusiness, and the retail sector.

A former Governor of the Royal Agricultural College, now the RAU, Teresa will be sharing insights into her fascinating career as well as looking at the challenge facing supermarkets and how farming goes forward.

She said: “I am really honoured to have been offered this wonderful opportunity to share some of my experiences from the horticulture sector, as well as my thoughts for the future, with the next generation at the Bledisloe Lecture.

“I will also be talking about why I believe we were totally unprepared for our entry into the EU and how I feel that it is vital that we learn from the missed opportunities at this time to take advantage for the future.”

The lecture, which will take place in the Boutflour Hall at the University’s Cirencester campus on 8th May, will start at 6.30pm with light refreshments, kindly sponsored by family run meat company Heck, available from 5.30pm.

RAU Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter McCaffery will introduce Teresa and will then host a question-and-answer session at the end of the lecture.

He said: “We are delighted that Teresa agreed to give this lecture. She is a trailblazing sector leader and her experience and knowledge is central to much of what we teach here at the RAU. We are really looking forward to hearing more.”

Teresa Wickham
Teresa Wickham

Teresa was also a non-executive director of the New Covent Garden Market Authority, a board member of the Apple and Pear Development Council and the Kingdom Advisory Board, and co-founder of the Women’s Farming Union. She has served on the boards of the Association of Agriculture, the Farm Animal Welfare Council, and RURAL, was a non-executive Director of Midland Shire Farmers, and also mentors a number of SMEs in the food sector.

She added: “I am particularly thrilled to have Heck supporting us with the refreshments for the lecture since I believe their family business story is a great example for the future. Producers need to always be looking at ways of adding value to their products or their farming business in order to grow and continue to succeed.

“As I see it, there are three important themes - cooperation, communications, and the consumer – if you can get these right then that will ensure you have a successful business!”

The prestigious lecture is named after eminent RAU alumnus Charles Bathurst, the first Lord Bledisloe (1867-1958) who was also Governor General of New Zealand in the early 1900s, who was deeply interested in agriculture and forestry and was one of the staunchest supporters of the then Royal Agricultural College.

The lecture, which had always taken place annually, was held online, for the first time in its history, in November 2020 when broadcaster, writer, historian, and RAU alumnus Jonathan Dimbleby interviewed Soil Association Chief Executive Helen Browning, to an audience of almost 300 people, about the role that food, farming and forestry must play in meeting the challenges of climate disruption, nature depletion and human health.

The 2022 Bledisloe Lecture was delivered by Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones MBE - The Black Farmer and a RAU Governor – who spoke about his own life story, as a child of the Windrush generation, as well as his work to increase diversity in the UK’s food and farming sectors.

This year’s Bledisloe Lecture is free to attend and everyone is welcome but please do let us know you are coming by emailing with your name, the number of people attending, and any food allergies.