The organisers of Sign & Digital UK (SDUK) have announced that the keynote speaker at its April show will be Sahar Hashemi OBE, the founder of the UK’s first coffee bar chain, Coffee Republic.

Sahar will be sharing her personal stories and lessons in a talk at 11am on Tuesday 2 April 2019, the first day of the show, followed by a Q&A session. 

“In keeping with SDUK’s theme for 2019, The Face of Innovation, and as a powerful speaker on innovation and entrepreneurial mindset, Sahar Hashemi will deliver an inspiring keynote on how ‘anyone can do it’ when it comes to awakening the entrepreneur within,” said SD UK. “Sahar will use her session at SDUK to share her captivating personal stories of building successful companies, as well as her expertise and industry knowledge of creating a brand.”

Sahar has built two brands over the years: Coffee Republic, which she grew with her brother to 110 stores and £30m turnover before exiting in 2001, and Skinny Candy, the guilt-free confectionery brand that she sold in 2007.

Sahar commented: “I am looking forward to talking at the Sign & Digital UK show and catching up on all the latest developments in this vibrant design sector. I will be sharing my thoughts on innovation and the entrepreneurial mindset and telling my own story of how I built two household named brands from my kitchen table – Coffee Republic and Skinny Candy – and hoping to inspire the audience.  

“My message is really that ‘anyone can do it’ but also I show people working in large corporations how to develop that same entrepreneurial mindset to the benefit of their business goals.”

Rudi Blackett, portfolio director at SDUK, added: “Sahar’s entrepreneurial experience combined with her ‘can-do’ spirit is truly inspiring, and will make for an insightful keynote. We’re excited to see her captivate the audience with her talk that aims to bring to life the passion, determination and open-mindedness needed to succeed for aspiring entrepreneurs.

“We hope visitors and exhibitors will bring their questions to benefit from Sahar’s expert retail and entrepreneurial knowledge.”

SDUK takes place on 2-4 April 2019 at the NEC in Birmingham. Register for your free ticket at