Supermarket giant Tesco is reviewing its public affairs account,
currently held by Lawson Lucas Mendelsohn.
The move comes just a few weeks before the Government formally announces
its plans to ’name and shame’ expensive retailers and after months of
speculation that the review was pending following LLM’s involvement in
last summer’s ’lobbygate’ scandal.
Tesco has used LLM since November 1997. The account was previously held
by Lowe Bell Political - now Bell Pottinger Public Affairs - where LLM
co-founders Neal Lawson and Ben Lucas worked prior to setting up their
The review is in its early stages and Tesco has written to Politics
International, APCO UK, Burson-Marsteller and LLM for written proposals.
The company is in talks with a further two agencies for pitches which
are expected to be heard in the next month.
The pitch process is being co-ordinated by public affairs manager
Katherine Edwards, who is responsible for Tesco’s UK parliamentary
The brief is wide-ranging, covering monitoring and strategic advice on
issues including the ongoing Competition Commission inquiry into
competition in the supermarket sector.
The Government’s consumer white paper, set to be published later this
month, also concerns Tesco. The paper is expected to tighten consumer
protection laws and to recommend ’name and shame’ lists highlighting the
prices charged for goods in the UK compared with other countries.
Public affairs agencies working for Tesco rivals, including Brunswick,
which handles Safeway’s government relations, Fishburn Hedges, which
works for Sainsbury, and Bell Pottinger, which is Asda’s agency, are
unable to benefit from the review due to client conflict.
Tesco recently reviewed its Scottish public affairs and PR, handing PR
back to its incumbent adviser Shandwick and awarding public affairs -
previously part of Shandwick’s brief - to GPC Scotland.