Retail lobbyist heads energy comms team

The British Retail Consortium’s top lobbyist, Russell Hamblin-Boone, has quit to join the newly created trade body for energy suppliers as its first head of communications and policy.

Hamblin-Boone joins the Energy Retail Association (ERA) next month and will report to chief executive Duncan Sedgwick.

His first task is to carry out a full review of the body’s communications needs. He said it was too early to say whether this would include hiring external support but added that in-house communications staff hires were likely.

The key PR challenges for the body to address are accusations made by consumer groups such as Energywatch over pricing and bad practice by salesmen, known as ‘misselling’.

Hamblin-Boone said: ‘The decision to create ERA is a clear indication of its desire to ensure customers can choose a supplier with confidence.’

He added that since privatisation in the 1980s suppliers had not had a dedicated trade group and he hoped the new system would make it easier for them to communicate their message to customers and opinion-formers alike.

ERA – whose members include British Gas, Powergen, npower and Scottish Power – has been created as one of three trade groups the energy industry has set up to replace the Electricity Association, which covered the sector as a whole and was disbanded in September.

The other two trade groups are the Association of Energy Producers and the Energy Networks Association.

In joining ERA Hamblin-Boone is following in the footsteps of another senior communicator at the BRC, former director of corporate affairs David Smith, who quit to join the Energy Networks Association as its first director of policy in the summer (PRWeek, 25 July).

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