CBI director general to join consultant as non-executive director with an emphasis on productivity.

Consultant Bucknall Austin has pulled off a coup by securing the services of Sir Digby Jones as a non-executive director, writes George Hay.

Jones, one of the best known figures in British commerce, was due to leave his present job as director-general of the CBI at the end of this year but has recently brought forward his leaving date to the summer. He is due to join Bucknall Austin "in an advisory role" at the beginning of May.

The appointment is the first role Jones has announced since announcing his departure and will involve him working a few days a month.

The firm, which has recently appointed Simon Birchall managing director, was exultant at the news.

A spokesperson said: "It's a massive coup for us to get someone of Sir Digby's stature. He'll be in high demand when he leaves the CBI."

Bucknall Austin said Jones would be working with the company to advise clients on how to get the best out of their property portfolio.

The spokesperson said: "Sir Digby has long held the view that businesses waste billions every year on poor property strategy. Property is the biggest business expense after staff, the equivalent of 13% of average office salaries - and this rises to as high as 22% in London."

Jones said that he was attracted to working with Bucknall Austin by the firm's emphasis on productivity.

He said: "British businesses have worked hard at improving workforce productivity but have missed the trick of winning similar gains from their second biggest asset. Bucknall Austin is set on correcting that and cutting waste out of property and construction projects."

Birchall, who has stressed "smart property strategy" since he took over in January, said he saw Bucknall Austin using collaboration and whole-life costing to reduce waste, optimise the value from facilities spend and drive down costs.

He said: "I am delighted Digby is joining us. He will bring immense presence and commercial acumen as we push Bucknall Austin forward. His knowledge of, and passion for, UK plc will add greatly to the advice we give our clients as they strive for competitive advantage in the high pressure global economy."

Jones is a familiar figure in his role championing British industry.

A former KPMG corporate finance expert, he was asked to extend his initial five-year term at the CBI by two years, which would have taken him up to 31 December this year.