Ex-Kingfisher chief Mulcahy to chair retail lobbying group

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The Independent Online

Sir Geoff Mulcahy, the man who built Kingfisher into a major retail conglomerate, is to join the British Retail Consortium as its next chairman in July.

The appointment marks a return to the retail scene for the industry veteran after more than three years of lying low. He left Kingfisher at the end of 2002 after his legacy was unpicked through disposals and demergers.

Sir Geoff, 64, takes over from Michael Wemms, the House of Fraser chairman, who completes a two-year term in July. The post is unpaid but is not arduous, with less than 20 fixed hours a year.

Kevin Hawkins, the BRC's director-general, said: "Like everything the role is what you make of it." On top of handling corporate governance issues for the retail lobby group, Sir Geoff will lend support to Mr Hawkins.

"He's there as a back-up source of advice for [me], a bit of troubleshooting if necessary and seeing the odd senior member of government," Mr Hawkins said. "It will be useful to have someone else to tap into who has been through a lot and has experience of dealing with government."

As well as tricky trading conditions, particularly for clothing and do-it-yourself retailers, the sector is struggling to contend with a rising cost base and creeping regulatory red tape. Growing protectionism in Europe, where some European Union member states are upset about China's growing power as an exporter, is also taxing UK retailers.

The BRC launched a consortium yesterday to fight against Brussels' plans to slap 20 per cent import duties on children's shoes made in China or Vietnam. The move would follow a similar tax on adults' shoes, which could be extended for five years in July. The BRC has joined forces with equivalent bodies in Ireland, Denmark and the Netherlands to fight the tax.

Sir Geoff's only business interests are chairing a retail consultancy, called Javelin, and sitting on the boards of Instore and The Home World as a non-executive director.