Sainsbury's has dropped Fishburn Hedges as its public affairs agency and handed the six-figure brief to Lexington Communications.
Sources stressed that while the company was not dissatisfied with the work of FH, it had reviewed its needs and decided to appoint Lexington for intelligence gathering and strategic advice.
The appointment follows that of two of Sainsbury's most senior managers.
CEO Sir Peter Davis and corporate affairs director Jan Shawe joined earlier this year from the Prudential. Lexington also serves as the bank's retained PA agency. There is understood to be a good relationship between Davis, Shawe and Lexington co-founder Mike Craven.
It is understood that when Davis and Shawe settled in at Sainsbury's, they ordered a review of the public affairs contract - which is being terminated six months early - with a view to bringing in Lexington.
The change brings to an end a two-and-a-half year relationship between the supermarket chain and FH. The agency has worked with the firm throughout the competition commission's recent enquiry into anti-competitive behaviour in the supermarket sector, which ended last month with the major chains being given a clean bill of health.
Craven will lead the team reporting to Roger Saoul, Sainsbury's head of public affairs.