WH Smith, the troubled high street group, has appointed its first group
press manager as part replacement for former corporate affairs director
Kevin Hawkins and indicated it may scrap his job altogether.
Neville Wells, corporate affairs manager at pub chain Greenalls, will
join the retailer in January working alongside investor relations
manager Anna Passey.
As co-ordinator of WH Smith’s communications Wells will take over part
of the role filled by Hawkins, who quit to join Safeway in June (PR
Week, 30 June).
Rodney Buse, WH Smith’s personnel director and acting corporate affairs
director said it was putting the appointment of a replacement ‘on hold’
until its new chief executive Bill Cockburn starts next year.
Buse added that Cockburn may decide not to appoint a new director.
‘We are keeping our options open,’ he said. ‘We want two very able
people to manage our media and City PR. If they are good enough they
will report directly to Bill.’
Buse said the new job was borne out of a need to ‘build a reputation’
for the group, which includes Virgin Our Price and Waterstone’s.
WH Smith came under fire from the media following disappointing
financial results and over 1,000 redundancies in August.
It is also facing increasing competition from supermarkets looking to
introduce magazines, books and compact discs.
Audrey Lloyd-Kitchen, director of corporate affairs at Greenalls, which
acquired Boddingtons two months ago, is looking for a financial PR
specialist to replace Wells.
Greenalls has hired Hill and Knowlton to handle corporate and public
affairs in the North West to highlight the job and investment
opportunities created by the merger.