Group Executive Management

Peter Gray, Chairman and CEO

In 1991 having previously worked for Lovell Construction as one of its youngest site managers, Peter set up BMBC a global book supply company with his brother James. From 1991 to 2001 Peter ran the operational management of the business including IT, customer services and operations in a period of significant growth. Also during this time a large number of acquisitions were undertaken including in 2000, BMBC's acquisition of John Coutts Library Services in both Canada and North America. Following this acquisition the Group was renamed as Coutts Information Services. Latterly in 2001 the Group acquired John Smith & Son, and the library supply assets were merged into Coutts with the campus retail business being run separately under the John Smith's brand.

Whilst retaining an interest in Coutts as a Non-Executive Director (a position he held until its sale to Ingram Industries Inc in 2006), Peter took on the role of Chairman and CEO of John Smith's and set a new strategic direction for the company.

At the time of acquisition, John Smith's had a retail turnover of £6m with all retail shops based in Scotland. The new drive for growth saw the Company quickly open a host of new stores in the UK and EIRE and also the placing of a significant investment in Botswana with the opening of a store and office premises at the University of Botswana. It is from here that the current International Division is based.

In 2004 Peter led the acquisition of Hammicks Legal, part of the Hammicks Bookshop Group with a strong and distinct brand in the provision of legal information around the world.

In 2006, Aztec Retail, the specialist retail software company was acquired, enabling the Group to put IT at the heart of its business development. In particular it has enabled the company to develop technologically robust models that have great synergy with the new funding frameworks in Higher Education.

Under Peter's leadership John Smith's has become one of the strongest growing companies in the market. Turnover has grown consistently and the company continues to re-invest in its markets and develop up-to-date business models with integrity and value, particularly in the Higher Education sector   

Peter Lake, Group Business Development Director

Peter joined JS Group in 2011 having previously worked in a number of senior roles at Thomson Reuters. Peter was CEO of Sweet & Maxwell from 2003 to 2011 and was also responsible for Thomson Reuters legal businesses in Europe and Asia. As well as general management roles, Peter led the development of Westlaw online services in the UK, Germany and India and was responsible for the acquisition of software and information businesses in the UK, Europe, Middle East and Asia. Before joining Thomson Reuters, Peter had worked for Reed Elsevier and Pearson.

Alan Leitch, Executive Director

Alan has worked in the UK academic book trade for over 30 years and his career has included senior management roles in both bookselling and publishing sales, giving him a unique experience of the academic and specialist market and an extensive network of professional contacts.

Having started his career as a shop floor bookseller in London in 1980, Alan then spent nearly 10 years in publishing sales with Routledge, firstly as a sales representative and then as UK Sales Manager. He returned to bookselling in 1994 and his extensive retail experience includes 4 years as Managing Director of Blackwell's UK, where he was also responsible for the company's UK library supply and online operations.

After leaving Blackwell's, Alan became Divisional Director of Hammicks Local Bookshops prior to the sale of that business to Ottakar's in 2003 and then founded his own business, Compass Academic Ltd, providing independent sales representation and market management for academic and specialist publishers. He joined JS Group as Marketing Director in 2004 and was appointed Director of the JS Campus Division at the end of 2007.

David Marshall, Group Commercial Director

Having Graduated from Strathclyde University in Politics and Economic History, David briefly trained as a stockbroker before he succumbed to the call of the book trade. David has worked in the book trade now for 16 years, initially working with Borders; he worked his way up from a bookseller to General Manager of the flagship store in Glasgow. During this time, David was named as General Manager of the year for Borders Books in 2008.

David joined The John Smith & Son Group in 2010 as the Regional Sales and Operations Manager for Scotland and was promoted to the role of Director of Commercial and Strategic Development for the UK Business in 2012

In 2015 David was promoted to the role of Group Commercial Director and became involved with the Groups business in both the UK and Africa demonstrating an ability to create innovative solutions to drive profitability and develop talent as well as implementing organisational strategic plans.

The John Smith & Son Group has transformed its business over recent years as its markets have changed and evolved. David has been at the forefront of much of this change with his leadership playing a major role in developing the e-commerce channels, building and improving supplier relationships, extending the range of products offered and being the champion of The Group’s eBook strategy.

David was appointed to the Group Board in June 2016 as Group Commercial Director.