The British Retail Consortium has appointed former Asda boss Tony DeNunzio as its new chair to succeed Richard Pennycook.
DeNunzio will officially take over when Pennycook steps down on May 20 after two years in the role.
The BRC is expected to formally announce the move later this morning.
DeNunzio, who currently serves as deputy chair of Dixons Carphone and a senior advisor to private equity house KKR, held a string of executive roles at Asda between 1994 and 2005, culminating in three years as president and chief executive of the grocer.
He went on to run Dutch group Maxeda, which at the time operated 12 businesses across the Benelux region, spanning the DIY, electronics and department store sectors.
Since starting his portfolio career, DeNunzio has held non-executive roles at Boots and Spanish discount chain PrimaPrix. He stepped down as chair of Pets at Home earlier this year after 10 years in the role.
DeNunzio told Retail Week: “Clearly we are in the middle of the coronavirus crisis and it is a crucial time for the industry. Some of the transformations that were happening already will have been accelerated. Whilst coronavirus is a threat to the health of the nation, it is a threat to the health of the retail industry in the short and long term.
“The BRC is a very important collective voice for the industry and I think that’s even more relevant today. The government and policymakers need a single point of contact that represents the industry’s views. The BRC is playing an important role.
“I hope to make a difference using my experience in retail to further the goals of the BRC and develop the industry.”
DeNunzio said communication between the BRC and government during the crisis had been much more open, but he stressed that this must prove a catalyst for Parliament to place greater importance on the retail industry and its role within the economy long after the pandemic has passed.
“We are being listened to by the government during this crisis and it has been very responsive to the needs of the industry,” DeNunzio said.
“Support has been broadly positive, the response has been wide-ranging and deep – business rates relief, competition law relaxation, loan schemes, the coronavirus job retention scheme – these all offer important support.
“The industry hasn’t had the focus from government that it needs. It is the biggest private sector employer with 3 million people, so I don’t think it’s been high enough on the priority list.
“However, the coronavirus crisis has definitely increased that prioritisation and I think the BRC has built some very strong relationships in the Cabinet Office, the Treasury and with the business secretary, which can be used in the future to make sure that dialogue continues and that the government properly recognises the importance of the industry.
“I think we have missed a massive opportunity if that relationship weakens post-coronavirus. It is our role to make sure that continues.”
Outgoing chair Pennycook added: “It has been a privilege to have served as chairman and I wish Tony every success in the role. He will provide great counsel to Helen [Dickinson, BRC chief executive] and her team as they embark on a new phase in the evolution of the business and seek to further strengthen the reputation of the industry with government and deliver much-needed policy change.”
DeNunzio hails ‘important’ CaRe20 campaign
RWRC – the home of Retail Week and World Retail Congress – has joined forces with the British Retail Consortium and retailTRUST to raise £10m for retail staff who are facing financial distress as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The CaRe20 – Caring for Retail during Covid-19 campaign aims to raise vital funds to provide financial, emotional, physical and vocational support to retail workers who may be ineligible for government support during the health emergency.
DeNunzio said it was an “important campaign” and urged retailers to give what they can to the cause.
“It is to support all of those retail colleagues who are being impacted financially and emotionally by the crisis. All retailers should dig deep to support retail colleagues across the industry – some of whom have lost their jobs, been furloughed or have other difficult circumstances to contend with.”
Retailers can help fund the appeal by contacting Claire Greenwood.
Individuals can donate to the CaRe20 appeal here.