NEWS: Safeway creates top public affairs post

Supermarket chain Safeway is to appoint its first director of public affairs.

Supermarket chain Safeway is to appoint its first director of public

affairs.



The post, which is believed to carry a salary of pounds 70,000, is one

of several created as part of a major re-think of Safeway’s PR and

public affairs strategy.



Part of the new communications division now headed by director of

communications Dr Kevin Hawkins (PR Week 30 June 1995), the new director

of public affairs will be responsible for a team of three public affairs

managers.



These include Tony Combes - previously Safeway’s sole public affairs

executive - who is responsible for food issues, Nicola Ellen, handling

environmental matters and a new public affairs manager for Scotland, yet

to be appointed. Peter Sitch, PR manager for Safeway’s property and

development division will continue to work alongside the new public

affairs division on planning issues.



Teresa Wickham, director of corporate affairs (and prior to Hawkins’

arrival the most senior in-house PR person), retains her title and

responsibility for some 25 staff working in the PR department, press

office, community relations and a new three-strong employee

communications department. This will be headed by press office manager

Wendy Gerbert, whose role will be filled by a senior press officer also

being recruited.



Commenting on the changes and the boost to the number of people working

in communications Wickham said it was ‘clear recognition of the

importance of communications, both internal and external’. She described

the new structure as much ‘flatter’,with people being given much more

detailed jobs descriptions.



Wickham said she knew of no plans to review Safeway’s roster of PR

agencies which include Brunswick on financial PR, consumer PR agency

Countrywide, TMA in Scotland, Brook PR and lobbying firm Westminster

Strategy.



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