Cubitt Consulting has won the financial PR account for troubled
supermarket chain Somerfield following a pitch against Ludgate.
The move by the retailer, which last week announced it was selling 140
Somerfield stores as well as 342 Kwik Save stores, acquired last year
after its merger with the discount chain, has been seen by some analysts
as a survival plan.
Somerfield’s share price has been in freefall since January, with an
estimated pounds 1.8 billion wiped off its market value.
Jill Rawlins, corporate affairs head at Somerfield, said that the
company was going through a difficult transitional period and needed as
’much good PR as it could get’.
She added: ’We need some outsiders’ views who are fresh to the company
and (Cubitt) has a good track record.’
Somerfield reviewed its financial PR strategy earlier this year, (PR
Week, 21 May), and subsequently ended its contract with then incumbent
agency Citigate Dewe Rogeson. The supermarket chain retains Band and
Brown Communications as its consumer PR agency.
Somerfield will now concentrate on being a high street convenience
store, focusing on secondary ’top-up’ shopping, rather than trolley
shopping, for its remaining 800 stores nationwide.
The move also saw chairman Andrew Thomas who steered the company through
flotation, stand down.
He was replaced by Lady Patten. She joined Somerfield as a non-executive
director last year and has been heavily involved in the new
Cubitt Consulting managing partner Simon Brocklebank-Fowler, said: ’A
core part of our business is working with high-profile clients who are
in the process of corporate change.’
Somerfield aims to raise pounds 450 million selling the stores, but some
analysts said the company would find it difficult to secure buyers when
other chains such as Sainsbury’s, were restructuring.