The search for a successor to take the helm at one of the UK’s most powerful lobbying groups began this week, after Stephen Robertson revealed he was stepping down as director general of the British Retail Consortium.

Robertson, who will leave in December after five years in charge, announced the move a week after accusing the government of not going far enough to kick-start the economy, despite welcoming the business-friendly tone of the Budget.

As guest editor of The Grocer in September last year, Robertson said he believed the BRC had been able to “shape the regulatory environment” and had been successful in helping both large and smaller retailers.

However, others said his legacy would be how successfully he had grown the membership of the BRC. He persuaded Morrisons, the last major supermarket group not represented, to join the ranks. Other companies to have come on board since he replaced Kevin Hawkins in 2008 include Greggs, KFC, Aldi and Starbucks.

“He is absolutely great at getting out there and telling businesses that if they aren’t already, they should be in the BRC,” said one source.

“Stephen may not be quite as involved in the minutiae of policy as his predecessor, but he has presided over the BRC being more staffed with experts than it ever has been, and its profile is second only to the CBI, which is a massive step forward.”

Robertson’s career has spanned 14 years on the boards of major UK retailers as well as earlier management roles with Mars, Unilever and Alberto Culver.

“The organisation is in a good position to handle the challenges the retail sector faces. I want to be sure there is plenty of time to find the right person for the role,” he said.