Former Department of Health comms chief Sian Jarvis to join Asda

Asda has signed up former Department of Health comms chief Sian Jarvis to oversee its PR and lobbying.

Sian Jarvis: to join Asda
Sian Jarvis: to join Asda
Jarvis resigned from the DH in July this year, having been director-general for comms since 2004.

PRWeek can reveal that Jarvis will join Asda once the Cabinet Office has cleared the appointment.

It is understood she has accepted a job as group director of communications and public affairs, reporting to Asda chief executive Andy Clarke.

Clarke was promoted to the CEO role earlier this year. Well-placed sources said he had been personally keen to create a new post overseeing all aspects of the supermarket’s communications. It is understood that Jarvis was first offered the role some months ago.

Asda, which was bought by Walmart in 2000, is Britain’s second-biggest supermarket behind Tesco, with a market share of about 17 per cent.

Jarvis will already be familiar with the Asda comms team, as the supermarket has been a key funding partner in the DH’s Change4Life anti-obesity drive, which is promoted by Freud Communications. Coincidentally, Asda also uses Freuds for corporate PR advice.

Asda has previously come under attack from health campaigners for refusing to back minimum pricing for alcohol. But in 2010 it became the first supermarket to introduce such a measure, saying it wanted to play a leading role in tackling alcohol misuse in the UK.

It was reported earlier this month that The Times' health editor Sam Lister will replace Jarvis at the DH. Lister will join Andrew Lansley’s department later this year as director of comms.

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