Heads roll as OFT creates ‘lean, mean’ comms team

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is slashing the headcount in its comms department in an attempt to create a ‘smaller, leaner, more specialised team'.

Recently installed comms director Barney Wyld plans to reduce the OFT's number of PROs from 40 to 25.

‘I'm building a new communications team that is much more focused on changing the behaviour of consumers, business and government to make markets work well,' he said.

Wyld, who joined last year from Fishburn Hedges, is creating two new senior-level posts - head of external relations and head of campaigns, each paying up to £80,000. He will also be creating 12 manager-level positions.

But many existing posts are being scrapped and an unspecified number of PROs are losing their jobs in the shake-up.

‘It is a combination of transfers to other parts of the OFT and government, with a few voluntary redundancies,' said Wyld.

He insisted the headcount cut was not driven by financial concerns: ‘There's no change in budget because, ­although we'll have fewer people, they will be senior. So we'll have a smaller, leaner, more specialised team.'

The OFT recently imp­osed a £121.5m penalty on British Airways after it ­admitted colluding to fix the prices of fuel surcharges. The new comms team will highlight such actions, but will place a greater emphasis on influencing behaviour.

‘The OFT is not afraid to use its powers, but we can ­often make as big an impact through inf­ormation and ­inf­luence,' said Wyld.

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