Mitchell is hired by First Group

Leading transport company First Group has appointed Michael Mitchell as its first corporate affairs director.

Leading transport company First Group has appointed Michael

Mitchell as its first corporate affairs director.



Mitchell is currently investor relations director at Signet Group - the

jewellery retailer formerly known as Ratners.



First Group, which changed its name from First Bus in December 1997 to

reflect its growing rail and air travel concerns, retains Hudson Sandler

for financial PR.



Mitchell will work with one other PR adviser, investor relations

executive Rachael Borthwick. Independent consultant Christopher

Ashton-Jones, who has been working at First Group since October 1997

advising on investor relations and financial PR, will stay on until

mid-May.



First Group is the UK’s biggest bus operator and since October its

market capitalisation has jumped from pounds 660 million to pounds 1.3

billion. This year it caused uproar by acquiring Great Western Holdings,

which owns Great Western Trains and North Western Trains. First Group

already owns Great Eastern Railway.



The company has a majority stake in Bristol International Airport and is

expanding its interests outside the UK. Last month the New World

Company, a consortium including First Group, won a contract to run bus

services in Hong Kong.



First Bus was formed in 1995 from the merger of Badger Line and Grampian

Regional Transport.



Like other train operating companies, First Group is increasingly

feeling the need to adopt a strong communications strategy with the

City, consumers and the Government. Mitchell’s appointment follows news

that Connex Rail is looking for a communications director.



Meanwhile, Virgin Rail has just appointed Finsbury to handle financial

PR in preparation for its flotation and National Express Group, which

runs Central Trains, Gatwick Express, Midland Mainline, Scotrail, and

Silverlink Train Services, appointed group communications manager Helen

McCorry just before Christmas. And in October, Stagecoach, which runs

South West Trains, re-appointed Bell Pottinger.



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