Under-fire supermarket ramps up property PR

Asda has set about strengthening its property comms team amid criticism of supermarkets’ planning tactics by the Competition Commission this week.

The supermarket chain has hired BAA public affairs managers Tom McGarry and Philip Bartram as comms managers. It has also brought in a new comms executive, inc­reasing the headcount in the property comms team from four to seven. Asda’s head of property comms Jonathan Refoy confirmed he would hire more staff.

This Wednesday, the Competition Commission released initial findings of its inquiry into the £123bn-a-year grocery market.

It found that landbanking – where retailers buy up land and sit on it to prevent rivals opening stores – was unfairly restricting competition. The big four supermarkets could now be forced
to sell off part of their landbanks.

Asda’s property comms team is responsible for public affairs and policy issues.

Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket, has a property comms team 14-strong, according to a spokesman.

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