Peter Vicary-Smith has announced that he will stand down from his role as chief executive of Which? after more than 13 years in the role.
In a statement published by Which? – registered as the Consumers’ Association with the Charity Commission – yesterday, the charity said that Vicary-Smith would be standing down from his role in September 2018 to pursue a “portfolio career”.
It also said that the search for Vicary-Smith’s successor “will commence in the coming weeks with the aim that new chief executive will be appointed later in 2018”.
He joined Which? in September 2004, having worked for the previous eight years as director of fundraising and communications at Cancer Research UK. Prior to that, Vicary-Smith had been head of appeals at Oxfam, his first job in the voluntary sector having begun his career in the commercial sector with marketing firm Procter & Gamble.
The last few years of Vicary-Smith’s time at the charity have been marred by issues over how much he and three other key employees were paid. According to its set of accounts for the 2016/17 financial year, Which? paid Vicary-Smith between £460,001 and £470,000. This was slightly lower than between £480,001-£490,000 it had paid him in 2015/16.
In January 2017, a group of Which? members sought to impose limits to executive pay and bonuses, and called for greater transparency of contracts awarded by Vicary-Smith to trustee-owned companies.
Vicary-Smith’s annual salary was also the subject of criticism in The Times in early 2016, which prompted Tim Gardam, chair of the organisation, to say they would lower senior executive pay packets.
'It has been a privilege'
In his time at Which? Vicary-Smith has lead on the charity developing a number of new services, including Which? Mortgage Advisers, Which? Legal Services and Which? Trusted Traders, all of which the charity said have secured Which?’s future growth.
Vicary-Smith said: “It has been a privilege to lead Which? over the past 13 years and to empower our members, customers and UK consumers to make choices that are right for them throughout their lives. With the organisation on a strong commercial footing, it is now the right time for me to hand over the leadership of this remarkable organisation.”
Gardam said: “I would like to thank Peter for his immense contribution to Which?’s growth and success over many years. He has provided an authoritative voice on behalf of UK consumers, dealing with government, regulators and business leaders and has built an organisation capable of taking Which?’s mission into the digital future.
"He has been, without doubt, one of the most influential figures in the organisation’s 60-year history.”