High street retailers Insider's Guide: Who's who in the retail PR wars

With the British Retail Consortium reporting this week that UK retail sales saw their first monthly drop in more than three years, conditions have seldom been tougher on the high street. Alec Mattinson and Kate Magee look at the comms players steering their brands through choppy waters in the run-up to Christmas.

JOHN LEWIS

Weekly updates have shown weakening sales in recent months. Andy Street, managing director, expects an 'extremely difficult' Christmas.

Helen Dickinson - Head of press and PR

Louise Cooper - Press and PR manager, corporate

Mark Forsyth - Press and PR manager, merchandise

Rachel Faulkner - Press officer, branches and retail development

AGENCIES

Rain Communications Fashion, advice services, Peter Jones and John Lewis Oxford Street

Grylls+Reade Home - Sellers PR Electricals and home technology

The SPA Way Gift list, beauty, Christmas - Stripe Communications Scotland

MARKS & SPENCER

Last week reported a 44 per cent slump in sales in the period April to September. Once-lauded chairman Sir Stuart Rose under pressure to turn fortunes around again.

Flic Howard-Allen, Director of communications and CSR

AGENCY

Tulchan Communications Financial PR

DEBENHAMS

Recent trading had been 'volatile', with like-for-like sales in September and October down 4.2 per cent. Lost MD Angela Spindler last week, after only nine months in the job.

Ed Watson, Head of PR

Elena Antoniou, Senior PR manager

AGENCIES

Financial Dynamics Financial PR

Bryan Morel Menswear

Lee Publicity Home and gifts

Euro RSCG Biss Lancaster To handle store openings

PRIMARK

The sector's star performer. Last week announced a rise in annual profits of 17 per cent as price becomes the key issue on the high street.

Geoff Lancaster, Head of external affairs for Primark's parent company Associated British Foods (ABF).

Primark also uses freelancer Helen Penney for fashion PR.

ABF'S AGENCY

Citigate Dewe Rogerson

Retained for City and financial PR.

ARCADIA GROUP

Owner Sir Philip Green said top performers were 'fashion forward' brands - Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge. The group saw an annual 2.8 per cent fall in like-for-like sales.

Tania Foster-Brown - Corporate press team - PR and comms director

Erica Graffin - PR manager, Dorothy Perkins and Wallis

Saskia Osmond-Evans - PR manager, Burton and Evans

Hayley Mitchell - PR manager, Miss Selfridge

Andrew Leahy - Head of PR, Topshop

Kelly Reed - PR manager, Topman

AGENCY

No retained agencies

BHS

In October BHS announced annual operating profits had fallen by 40 per cent to £30.2m.

Vanessa Afful-Walcott, PR manager for homeware and menswear

Rebecca Roberts, PR manager for womenswear

AGENCY

Impulse PR Childrenswear.

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