Dixon tunes in to public affairs

Electrical goods retailer The Dixon Group has poached Lesley Smith, director of public affairs at Burson-Marsteller, for the newly-created post of public affairs director.

Electrical goods retailer The Dixon Group has poached Lesley Smith,

director of public affairs at Burson-Marsteller, for the newly-created

post of public affairs director.



Smith’s role at Dixon will include responsibility for building

relationships with the Government, the European Commission and trade

bodies. She will report directly to group chief executive John

Clare.



’She will support our involvement with environmental, political and

legislative issues in the UK and Brussels,’ Clare told PR Week.



Smith will safeguard the retailer’s interests in environmental issues

such as CFC gases in fridges and recycling television sets.



The most controversial issue for Dixon and other electrical goods

retailers is a damning report by the Monopolies Commission into price

fixing last July. President of the Board of Trade Margaret Beckett

banned retailers from using manufacturers’ recommended retail prices,

which were blamed for stifling competition and keeping prices high.



Clare said that Smith’s role at Dixon had previously been performed by

internal committees, although Dixon currently retains GJW for public

affairs work in the UK. ’It will be up to her whether she wants to

continue that relationship or dispose of it,’ he said.



Smith, who takes up her post on 2 February, joined B-M in November 1996

and reported to managing director of European government relations,

Jeremy Galbraith. She headed the firm’s UK lobbying operation. There are

no plans to replace her. Smith’s departure means that B-M is left with

one senior public affairs player with links to the Labour Party - Ian

Lindsley, who joined from Shandwick in September.



Prior to her stint at B-M Smith studied in the US for an MBA, before

which she was head of government and public affairs at Railtrack. She is

also the former spokesperson for former deputy Labour Party leader, Roy

Hattersley.



The Dixon Group, which includes Dixons, Currys and PC World, has seen

its share price drop over 20 per cent in the past few months amid

concern about pre-Christmas sales.



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