Seeboard chief joins BT retail

BYLN: By Jon Rees

Seeboard’s retail chief Paul Collis has left the company to head British Telecom’s retail division, further fuelling speculation that Seeboard is to pull out of its retail operations.

The electricity company has 55 stores in the South-east, which last year made profits of 1.8m on sales of 53m. Collis has been replaced by marketing manager Nigel Samuels, who becomes commercial director.

Many of the regional electricity companies have divested their retail interests since privatisation. Eastern Group, Southern Electric and Midlands Electricity have put their joint venture, the 317-store group Powerhouse, up for sale.

A leading contender to buy Powerhouse is the acquisitive PowerStore Trading, which purchased the Homepower chain in February (MW February 17).

Collis’ departure comes two months after the group ended its association with advertising agency CME.KHBB. It spent 2.5m with the agency last year. One source described the move as “a gradual winding down of outside activities before a sell-off”.

Collis will spearhead a revamp of the 83-strong BT Shop chain and its marketing.