Starbucks drafts in RLM Finsbury for guidance on tax issues

Starbucks has brought in RLM Finsbury to guide the firm through its reputation-damaging tax avoidance issues.

Pledge: Starbucks plans to contribute more corporation tax (Credit: Getty Images)
Pledge: Starbucks plans to contribute more corporation tax (Credit: Getty Images)

The global coffeehouse chain appointed Roland Rudd’s agency last week with an initial focus on res-ponding to the tax issues dubbed ‘outrageous’ by public accounts committee chair Margaret Hodge.

The agency is thought to have advised Starbucks around its decision to review its accounting practices, and helped prepare a statement issued over the weekend that the firm is planning to increase corporation tax contributions.

Finsbury’s involvement is understood to be led by David Henderson, a partner and former Downing Street economics adviser who was responsible for preparing Gordon Brown and David Cameron for Prime Minister’s Questions. Rudd is also thought to be actively advising the firm.

A Starbucks spokesperson told PRWeek: ‘RLM Finsbury has been engaged to advise Starbucks on specific issues in relation to tax and associated reputation matters.’ RLM Finsbury declined to comment.

Starbucks retains Edelman to provide corporate advice on a global basis, a relationship that remains unaffected.

While Starbucks’ tax issues have been the trigger for RLM Finsbury’s engagement, it is thought the agency is providing wider reputation advice. It is understood the two parties have not yet finalised whether the project brief will evolve into a longer-term relationship.

Finsbury is thought to have been brought in thanks to its financial comms expertise and ability to engage on tax policy.

One senior corporate PR agency figure said Starbucks needed to align its day-to-day operations with its comms operation, as ‘one hand doesn’t seem to know what the other hand is doing’.

Editor-in-chief’s opinion on Starbucks’ tax issues

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