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Dixons capo is new Tory bagman

Kalming influence

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Sir Stanley Kalms, the outspoken Dixons chief, has landed a big challenge to fill his retirement days - he's the new treasurer and fundraiser for the Conservative party.

The Tories took a severe hammering in the last two elections, so passing the hat around will be a tough job.But arch Euro-sceptic Sir Stan, who already funds the party, should be well up to the job of collecting from others.

In Dixons' last annual report, Sir Stan vented his anger at the Labour government and EU legislation. He was not happy about European waste recycling rules, UK Sunday trading laws, the UK Consumer Credit Act, and the Town and Country Planning Act.

Kalms stated in the report: "We continue to grow the group against a background of the most severe and costly regulation the market economy has experienced both from Brussels and our own government.

"Too often absurd demands are being imposed on industry, frequently with insufficient thought or consideration of either the additional cost or the practical implications. Some proposals are simply unworkable and merely add costs that must inevitably be borne by the consumer."

Sir Stanley's views have endeared him to Conservative party leader Iain Duncan Smith. Kalms was also early backer of Duncan Smith's leadership campaign. Duncan Smith described Sir Stan as "one of Britain's most successful businessman" when he announced Kalms' appointment yesterday.

The retail legend is stepping down as executive chairman of the Dixons Group at the company's AGM in September 2002, two months short of his 71st birthday.

He started the Dixons empire when he went to work a this dad's photo shop in 1948, and reckons his best- ever deal was buying Currys in the 80s which got the company "into white goods in a big way".

Sir Stan's faviourite Desert Island Disc is 'My Way' sung by Frank Sinatra. He claimed he had a form of breakdown when he was 33 and his business wasn't performing well.

He is proud of the Dixons way of doing business. "We are not cuddly. You may not get love and affection, but you get good value and service. I assume customers want to buy that way," he said while appearing on the radio show.

Sir Stan is also a noted philanthropist for Jewish charities. ®

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