Marks and Spencer has decided to recruit its first dedicated
corporate affairs director in two years. The retailer, which has been
fighting City speculation over the last month that it is ripe for
takeover, has briefed head-hunters to find suitable candidates for a top
corporate PR role.
Although M&S has a policy of promoting from within, in communications as
well as other divisions, it has decided it needs to go outside and
recruit a PR professional with heavyweight investor relations
A precedent was set for recruiting PR people from outside the company in
October last year, when the corporate PR team hired two new members,
Louis Hill and Victoria Molyneux.
The new role would take over responsibility for IR from finance director
Robert Colvill and would oversee a team of 35 working across media
relations, internal communications and public affairs, all of which are
currently headed by corporate communications executive Brian Hudspith.
Hudspith will report to the new director.
The previous corporate PR chief for M&S, John Stanley, left in 1997.
Overall responsibility for the function has since lain with Clara
Freeman, the company’s personnel, group communications and UK stores
head. The new director will report to Freeman.
The retailer’s next financial results - its Christmas trading figures -
are due out next week and are keenly awaited by the City. Would-be
acquisitors are waiting to see whether the figures are poor or not
before they decide to pounce. Tesco was reported to be considering a bid
before Christmas, but has now made it known that it will not be
launching a takeover.
With a takeover battle looming, any new investor relations head is
likely to have their work cut out.