Focus Wickes counsel quits post to join Drax

A merry-go-round in the retail and energy sectors is in full swing as DIY giant Focus Wickes loses its head of legal to Drax Power, to be replaced by an in-house lawyer from Boots.

Former Focus Wickes legal head Peter Rothwell, who held the position for three years, took on the role of legal counsel and company secretary last month at Drax (formerly known as AES Drax Power), owner of Western Europe’s largest coal-fired power station, which last year completed a huge reorganisation of its £1.3bn debt mountain.

In his new role, Rothwell has replaced Yehuda Cohen, who left Drax for Foundation Energy in April, less than a year after he was appointed.

Commenting on his new appointment, Rothwell said: “It’s more consistent with what I’d done previously in my career, and so it was a preferable place to be. I’d been in utilities and so the components at Drax are closer to my background than retail was.”

On the time he spent working at Focus Wickes, Rothwell said: “There was one lawyer there before I joined and I was the first head of legal. Now the company has become a different shape and size.”

During his time at the company, which is now the UK’s second-largest DIY retailer, Focus Wickes attempted to float on the London Stock Exchange, but after slashing its offering to £1bn from £1.4bn, the group pulled the IPO at the last minute due to adverse conditions in equity capital markets.

The role of Focus Wickes’ head of legal will be taken on by Ian Thomson, who joined the company in August from Boots, where he was senior commercial legal adviser for nine years.

Thomson has been brought into the DIY group on a temporary basis, for a period of six months, as acting head of the group.

It is understood to be highly likely that Thomson will be retained after the temporary term.