British Gas Energy Centre appoints ex-book retailer

Bill McGrath, who presided over the collapse of the Pentos book retailing empire, has taken his first permanent job in two years by joining British Gas Energy Centres as managing director.

McGrath takes up his position this week, replacing Simon Kirk, who announced he was leaving Energy Centres in January (MW January 15). Kirk had worked for British Gas for 30 years.

McGrath is to take charge of a chain of 240 stores selling gas and electrical appliances and kitchen accessories. The chain is part of Centrica, which runs British Gas Trading.

McGrath will report to Centrica chief executive Roy Gardner. He will have responsibility for taking on rival independents and expanding Energy Centres’ merchandise.

He will also have to decide whether to continue the strategy, developed by his predecessor Kirk, of launching Energy Centres “shops within shops” at supermarkets such as Savacentre.

Energy Centres recently appointed McCann-Erickson Manchester to run its 3m advertising account.

McGrath has worked as a retail consultant for DIY chains since the collapse of Pentos in March 1995. He was appointed chief executive of Pentos, which ran book retailer Dillons, the stationer Ryman and poster shop Athena, in 1994. His remit was to revive the group’s fortunes after it made huge losses on the back of high rents and low sales.

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