David Lloyd creates in-house PR function

Health-club chain David Lloyd Leisure has created its first in-house PR function, a year after axing its agency support.

The firm has this week announced the appointment of former Walt Disney Company EMEA internal communications head Mark Webb as its first group PR manager.

Webb confirmed that he would be the only PRO and there were no plans to hire new agencies. However, he added that on regional PR he would be liaising with sales and marketing managers at the 55 David Lloyd clubs in the UK and Ireland.

When asked if one PRO was sufficient, Webb did concede that the situation could be reviewed later this year. He said: 'We will see what can be done by one person and then we will look at taking a longer-term view.'

Webb said the key challenge would be to target potential new customers within the 15 to 20 mile range of the group's leisure centres, and that this would be undertaken via local and regional press.

The firm previously used Biss Lancaster for raising the national brand profile of the group, Leedex Euro RSCG for regional PR and the in-house team at parent company Whitbread for corporate affairs and internal comms.

Last year, however, the group shed Biss Lancaster and Leedex, as it considered the company's portfolio too complex to be handled by outside agencies.

At Disney, Webb was responsible for the implementation of a new computer system in Disney Europe, Middle East and Africa's base in London.

Prior to that he spent eight years in various PR and communications roles for Disneyland Paris.

His time with Disney was interrupted by an 18-month spell at Biss Lancaster, between 2000 and 2001.

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