The British Retail Consortium is on the verge of hiring its first public affairs consultancy in a bid to transform its image into a radical campaigning body.
BRC officials have spoken with a number of agencies, including Shandwick, Edelman, Chelgate and DLA Upstream. No decision has been taken and any agency would have to be supported by BRC's 100 members, said to represent over 90 per cent of the retail sector.
The BRC currently uses political monitoring from PIU, but this relationship is likely to end when a dedicated public affairs agency is taken on. The BRC hopes to upgrade the service it receives to give it a more campaigning focus.
Recent staff turbulence at the BRC - 'the voice of UK retailing' - has left senior PROs eager for stability. Last month's appointment of communications chief David Smith (PRWeek, 8 December 2000) followed that of director of parliamentary affairs Charles Anglin four months earlier (PRWeek, 1 September 2000). Both report to director-general Bill Moyes.
The pair have made a raft of appointments aimed at helping the BRC 'punch its weight'. Sam Parkhouse joined as a press officer in Smith's team two months ago, shortly before Russell Hamblin-Boone joined as parliamentary officer. Hamblin-Boone had been a civil servant and private secretary to House of Lords leader Baroness Jay.