Ex-WH Smith directors employ Tulchan for bid

Simon Burke and Keith Hammill, the former WH Smith directors leading a £940m bid for their old company, have drafted in Tulchan Communications to handle PR around their offer as the troubled stationer prepares itself for a wave of comms redundancies.

Tulchan founder Andrew Grant and consultant David Trenchard are leading the account.

They report to Hammill and Burke and the directors of Permira, the venture capital firm that is backing the bid.

Tulchan’s work on the bid does not affect Permira’s relationship with Finsbury, which has been its retained PR adviser for the last three years.

WH Smith, which is advised by Brunswick, said last week that as Permira’s cash offer of 375p per share was preliminary, the bid might not materialise.

But the premium of the offer means that WH Smith’s board will not be able to dismiss it. On Tuesday (20 April), WH Smith’s shares closed at 345p.

Hammill is chairman of suit company Moss Bros, while Burke is former chief executive of toy retailer Hamleys.

A WH Smith spokeswoman said last week that job cuts at the company’s head office in Swindon would affect the retailer’s PR division, but declined to give further details.

WH Smith, which has suffered from poor trading in the face of market competition, is to announce its interim results next Thursday (29 April).

At the beginning of January, WH Smith chief executive Kate Swann announced poor trading results, which showed flat like-for-like sales over the all-important Christmas period and a two per cent decline in gross margin.

Swann, who is a former MD of Argos, took over the WH Smith reins from former chief executive Richard Handover in January.

Last year, WH Smith appointed Consolidated Communications to a new account aimed at rebranding the company (PRWeek, 31 October 2003). It retains GCI for consumer PR and day-to-day media relations.

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