B&Q legal head abruptly quits as panel rejig draws to a close

As B&Q reaches the final stages of its panel review, it has emerged that Gary Shillinglaw, legal head and company secretary of the UK’s leading home improvement retailer, is suddenly leaving the company.

The shock departure is thought to have been sparked by an announcement on 17 September by Kingfisher plc, B&Q’s listed parent company, to slash the number of staff in its London head office from 130 to 80. Kingfisher expects to save £14m per year by doing this.

Shillinglaw is due to be replaced by Kingfisher’s deputy company secretary Martin Stokes, who was made redundant from his position this month.

Stokes is due to join B&Q today (29 September) as the company’s new director of legal services and company secretary. The Lawyer understands that both Shillinglaw and Stokes were interviewed for the post that was eventually filled by Stokes.

B&Q farms out almost 80 per cent of its legal work to external lawyers. The firms currently on the company’s panel are Addleshaw Goddard, Bond Pearce, Dempster Binning, intellectual property consultancy Rouse & Co and related law firm Willoughby & Partners.

B&Q also instructs firms from Kingfisher’s panel, which includes the likes of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw, Lovells and Macfarlanes.

It is unclear if the overhaul of B&Q’s legal panel was triggered by Shilling-law’s departure and how, if at all, it will impact on Kingfisher’s relations with its roster of advisers.
Kingfisher declined to comment. B&Q did not return calls for comment.