McVitie’s is delaying the recruitment of a successor to its
recently-departed head of communications, until after the outcome of the
takeover bid for its parent company United Biscuits.
Alison Heads left the post late last month, to be a communications
manager at Glaxo Wellcome. McVitie’s has since drafted in Vivienne
Carlton as an interim manager on a consultancy basis for the next few
months. Carlton currently reports to the board.
UB, which makes brands such as Jaffa Cakes, KP Nuts and Hula Hoops, was
targeted earlier in the year by two rival bidders and last month they
tabled a joint bid for UB. The bidders were France’s Finalrealm, which
includes the Danone group, and US company Burlington, which includes
food giant Nabisco. The combined bid, worth pounds 1.25 billion, was
supported by a number of venture capital outfits.
An undisclosed source said that many marketing staff are keen to leave
UB ahead of the final deal, unsure of the future. Carlton would confirm
only that she was acting communciations head, and said she would make an
announcement in due course.
According to the source McVitie’s has been reluctant or unable to
recruit a permanent successor to Heads - who had been in the job only
seven months - with the position so uncertain.
Uncertainty also hangs over the agencies McVitie’s uses. Lexis handles
consumer PR, covering product PR as well as some crisis management
Circle focuses mainly on business communications.