Ex-KPMG retail head takes up BRC leadership

Michael Bow
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THE British Retail Consortium, the retail lobby group, yesterday handed over its leadership to a new director general amid increasing turmoil on the high street.

Helen Dickinson, a former KPMG retail consultant, officially took up the post, replacing former director general Stephen Robertson, who stepped down last month after five years at the helm.

Dickinson, who was unveiled in August to lead the group, has more than two decades experience at KPMG, latterly as UK head of retail and audit.

She was also a relationship partner at KPMG, working with many retail businesses who now comprise the BRC membership.

The appointment comes after a tumultuous year for the high street, which saw high profile shops like JJB Sports and Comet fall into financial trouble

Dickinson told City A.M. yesterday the her first priority would be to focus on a planned rise in business rates set for April 2013, which the BRC is set to lobby the Treasury on ahead of this year’s Budget in March.

She also sounded a warning that tough trading conditions would continue for the foreseeable future, placing many underperforming businesses at risk.

“This environment is always one where the polarisation of those that get it right and those that get it wrong is wider,” she said.

“We are being much more discerning as shoppers and it makes it harder at the bottom.”

Dickinson also has a key position chairing the influential KPMG/Ipsos Retail Think Tank, which monitors high street trends and publishes regular research papers.