Profile: Adrian Hodges, Business in the Community; A new body in the shop

Leaving Business in the Community will be a wrench for Adrian Hodges. Now 34, he has just been appointed to one of the most eagerly watched posts in PR - as head of corporate communications at The Body Shop.

Leaving Business in the Community will be a wrench for Adrian Hodges.

Now 34, he has just been appointed to one of the most eagerly watched

posts in PR - as head of corporate communications at The Body Shop.



Right now though, he is talking about the last five years of life, as

director of communications at Business in the Community.



That BITC has been much more than just a job to him becomes apparent

when he is asked to list his hobbies. His eyes light up and he says:

‘Business in the Community...I don’t jest.’



‘I’ll be very sad to leave BTIC,’ he says, ‘it’s a different

organisation from the one I joined five years ago and it’ll be a very

different organisation again in another five years. It’s an interesting

time, and business in the community is high on the boardroom agenda.’



When it comes to talking about his new job - which he takes up after

Christmas - Hodges diplomatically avoids any questions to do with his

predecessors at the company. Certainly The Body Shop has had its share

of change in terms of PR personnel. Last June it lost Shaun Whatling,

its UK head of PR. His departure came just months after that of Gwen

Gober, head of corporate communications, who lasted just six months in

the job.



Hodges smiles and explains that as a communicator he needs to listen

before he can talk and while he’s already had some ‘stimulating

sessions’ with The Body Shop, he’s not yet in a position to comment. But

he adds ‘I’m champing at the bit to get there’.



For someone who has spent so long encouraging business to take an active

role in the community, The Body Shop is a natural progression for

Hodges. ‘The Body Shop manifestly embraces social and environmental

change as part of its mission statement. I worked for five years to

promote those ideals and I see my new job as an opportunity to continue

with this cause.’



‘Being at the leading edge of its field, The Body Shop offers the

opportunity to experiment and be innovative,’ he adds.



Undoubtedly, BITC has stood Hodges in good stead for future challenges.

He sees corporate reputation as one of the keys to product

differentiation. But he says there’s still a lot of work to be done on

this issue.



Those who know him praise Hodges’ professionalism, and his organisation.

‘He’s a good behind-the-scene man rather than the thrusting PR type,’

says one journalist. While Julia Cleverdon, chief executive of BITC

praises ‘the sharp strategic focus’ Hodges has brought to BITC’s

communications.



A one-time member of the National Youth Theatre, Hodges has always had

an interest in the arts - and until a year ago was on the national board

of Business in the Arts.



His first job, with Arun District Council’s Leisure and Tourism

department, saw him booking stars such as Max Bygraves and organising

Big Daddy wrestling events.



After Arun, he moved to London and worked for four years with Kallaway,

one of the leading arts sponsorship agencies, finishing up as head of

communications. Managing director Bill Kallaway remembers him as

‘likeable, direct and on occasion tough’.



But, if it is challenges he’s after, Hodges has certainly chosen well.

Last year The Body Shop appeared to be in crisis after US ethical

investor Franklin Research and Development accused it of failing to live

up to its ethical credentials.



The whole issue threatens to re-ignite in January 1996, shortly after

Hodges joins the company, when The Body Shop publishes the findings of

an independent ethical audit it commissioned itself.



‘It demonstrates the Body Shop’s commitment to transparency,’ says

Hodges, already limbering up to hit the ground running. ‘The company’s

learnt from the past, it’s always celebrated success and it’s trying to

do better.’



HIGHLIGHTS



1983 Event manager, Arun District Council

1985 Marketing manager, Commonwealth Institute

1987 Press officer, later head of communications, Kallaway

1990 Director of communications, Business in the Community

1996 Head of communications, The Body Shop



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