Starbucks in CSR push as report predicts cutbacks

Starbucks is creating a new post of UK head of comms and corporate social responsibility (CSR), in an attempt to build a 'greater understanding of the brand'.

The coffee chain hopes the new positioning will help it to stand out from its main rivals Costa and Caffe Nero.

But the plans have emerged as a new report by CSR consultancy Corporate Citizenship suggests that CSR could be one of the first facets of PR to suffer in a recession.

Starbucks is the biggest player in Britain's £900m-a-year coffee shop industry. The new recruit will join an existing comms team of two, and will report to marketing director Brian Waring.

'As part of our ongoing plans to build a greater understanding of the Starbucks brand, we are currently seeking to grow the team with the appointment of a head of comms and CSR,' said a Starbucks spokeswoman.

'This role will focus on sharing our ethical approach to sourcing coffee and our commitment to making a positive contribution to the communities we touch.'

But six in ten respondents to the Corporate Citizenship survey agreed 'in a time of economic recession, there will be pressure to cut back on CSR efforts'.

The survey also found that businesses see climate change as the major challenge, while activists are more concerned about poverty and social inequality.

Starbucks last year hired Fishburn Hedges to a wide-ranging UK corporate comms and public affairs brief, replacing Cohn & Wolfe (PRWeek, 25 July 2007).

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