Northern retail expert named co-chair of first national Retail Sector Council

The first industry-led Retail Sector Council has been launched by Retail Minister Andrew Griffiths and Richard Pennycook – chairman of Fenwick, Cheshire-based The Hut Group and Yorkshire headquartered Howden Joinery Group.

The council will meet regularly with industry to discuss the challenges the sector faces. They will review how best retailers could adapt to changing consumer behaviour, the business environment and opportunities such as the development of new technologies to improve customer service, the chances to grow skills through a sector push on high-value training and ways to boost sector productivity and its economic health.

Senior management from Boots, Amazon and other renowned retailers will sit on the council as well as the British Retail Consortium. Together, with government, they will provide expert advice to the sector and contribute to its future direction.

Richard Pennycook, co-chair of the Retail Sector Council, said: “I am delighted to be co-chairing the first Retail Sector Council, which comes at a moment of unprecedented change for our sector. Retail is one of the largest private sector employers in the country, and the Council will provide strategic oversight of the challenges we are facing by seeking positive change and increased productivity.

“We will be working together with industry and government to deliver our vision for the future of retail.”

Retail Minister Andrew Griffiths added: “The UK’s retail sector is undergoing rapid structural changes with consumers increasingly favouring online shopping and rising operating costs for retailers.

“Our new collaborative Retail Sector Council will bring government and industry together to look at how best to ensure the industry adapts to meet the changing demands of consumers.”


The UK’s retail sector is a driving force in the economy and essential to our high streets, local and regional communities. The formation of the council follows other government action to create a Britain fit for the future including the government’s response to the independent Taylor Review, which ensures employment law and practices keep pace with the modern ways of working, and its ambitious Industrial Strategy which sets out a long term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of businesses and people throughout the UK.

In 2016, the retail sector added a gross value of £94.6bn to the UK economy; the new council will aim to address key sector issues including skills and increasing productivity.

Pennycook was previously the chief executive of Co-Op and has worked at JD Wetherspoon, Laura Ashley, Welcome Break and Morrisons.

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