Starbucks brings in Simon Redfern as UK corporate affairs chief

Starbucks has recruited Pagefield partner Simon Redfern as UK corporate affairs chief in the wake of the damaging corporation tax affair.

Simon Redfern: first in-house role
Simon Redfern: first in-house role

Redfern’s impending arrival will end a prolonged period without a senior UK comms figure since the departure of head of communications Tim McCoy for EDF in September.

In the meantime the US coffee chain has been pilloried over its UK corporation tax record after revelations it paid £8.6m on taxable profits in 14 years of trading.

After the company’s insistence it had behaved in accordance with local tax regulations failed to calm matters, Starbucks UK managing director Kris Engskov later made the unusual move of volunteering to pay as much as £20m in tax in 2013 and 2014 ‘regardless of whether the company is profitable’.

Redfern, who will be reporting to Engskov after joining on 15 April, told PRWeek that corporation tax would be one of the issues in his remit as director of corporate affairs, along with the youth skills agenda and sourcing issues.

Starbucks’ senior vice president of global communications and international public affairs Corey duBrowa said Redfern’s role will be ‘primarily focused on building and sustaining relationships with key UK stakeholders’.

‘He’ll also be helping our business leaders talk much more about coffee – all the care we invest in it, the quality of the beverages we serve to customers, the ways in which we ethically source coffees around the world,’ he added.

It will be the first client-side role in Redfern’s mainly public affairs-focused career, which has included five years at Connect Communications and five at Fishburn Hedges (including 18 months working on Starbucks in 2007-2008).

Redfern said: ‘I’m looking forward to getting more ‘in front of the camera’ in an-house role and working with the Starbucks team and helping the business tell its great story on coffee, skills and apprenticeships.’

Mark Gallagher, Pagefield’s senior partner, said: 'Simon has been with us more or less from the start of the agency and we will be very sorry to see him go.'

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