Whitbread’s Hughes gets Burger King comms job

Fast-food giant Burger King has appointed Whitbread Restaurants head of comms Lesly Hughes as its PR chief for the UK and Ireland.

Hughes joins as comms manager, replacing Elaine McCarville who left four months ago. She takes responsibility for internal and external comms, employee and franchise comms, media relations, public affairs and community relations.

One of her first tasks will be to devise a fresh internal comms strategy to communicate with all employees at its UK &Ireland headquarters, and at the firm’s 700 restaurants across the UK.

BK International comms manager Dara Grogan said internal communications is a priority for the business at the moment.

BK CEO Brad Blum left his post in early July after differences with the board, it was widely reported. TurnWorks’s CEO Greg Brenneman is set to replace him.

Hughes arrives at BK after 14 years at Whitbread, during which she held the roles of group PR manager and group media relations manager. She reports to BK International senior director of comms Kai Boschmann.

Hughes joins BK as health and obesity issues continue to occupy the news agenda. Grogan said: ‘We have a very vigorous public affairs programme, where we are talking to stakeholders such as the government and consumer interest groups. At the moment, we are also looking to reduce salt, sugar and fat in all our items.’

Other issues that BK faces include proposed bans on advertising junk food to children. To tackle concerns over obesity and health, BK is currently working with NGOs such as Consensus Action on Salt and Health, according to Hughes.

Edelman currently manages BK’s public affairs, UK corporate PR and crisis management, and has handled the account for two years. Windsor-based Octopus PR manages BK’s regional media relations.

BK is the world’s second-largest burger chain, behind fierce rival McDonald’s, and was owned by food giant Diageo until 2002.

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