The incoming boss of the British Retail Consortium has warned retail leaders they must adjust to a “new norm” of slow economic growth and online dominated sales.

Helen Dickinson, unveiled as the next director general last week, told The Grocer she planned to hold a major consultation with members to draw up a list of realistic battles to fight.

“My first priority will be to have an engagement exercise with members, face-to-face, to talk about what key issues they are facing, rather than trying to campaign on everything,” she said.

Dickinson is currently head of retail and audit at KPMG, where she has worked for more than 20 years. She will take over from Stephen Robertson in December.

The arrival of a veteran accountant at the helm comes as the UK’s flatlining economy sees chancellor George Osborne set to miss his projections for economic turnaround.

But Dickinson said retailers also had to adjust their mindsets to the reality of the economic situation and to its new opportunities, including the potential of e-commerce.

“This is the new norm we are living in and we have got to get used to it,” she said. “The outlook is one of slow grow. There has been a shift of economic power from the West to the East and it is not going to change any time soon.”

The BRC also announced the appointment of Kingfisher group CEO Ian Cheshire as chairman. He takes over on 1 October from Rob Templeman and will serve for two years. Templeman becomes deputy chairman.