Connex PR revamp as Grandfield takes role

Connex, the under-fire train operator, has revamped its

communications function, creating an in-house PA unit and tasking

Grandfield Public Relations with a corporate reputation building


Connex became the first operator since rail privatisation to be stripped

of a franchise when its South Central service was awarded to the

Go-Ahead group last October. The move followed a glut of bad publicity

about late and cancelled trains.

Owned by French group Vivendi Environment, Connex had previously

retained Citigate Westminster on a PA brief.

The appointment of MD Olivier Brousse at Easter sparked a communications

review, marked by the departure of corporate affairs director Rosemary

Drummond, the conclusion of Citigate's brief, and the arrival of Deborah

Pester from the Law Society as external relations manager to head the

in-house team.

In addition to corporate PR, Grandfield will assume a role in deciding

PA strategy, which will then be executed in-house.

Connex sought to bring the PA operation closer to the day-to-day running

of the business, and considered a dedicated lobbying consultancy


The department will be strengthened with two further PROs in due


Grandfield was appointed to the account after a recommendation by Connex

non-executive director Tony Palmer, a former Grandfield client as CEO of

building firm Taylor Woodrow.

Agency executive chairman Charles Cook, who leads the account, admitted

that the brief represented 'one of the most challenging corporate

repositioning jobs in the UK'.

Connex is currently bidding for two new licences. The Strategic Rail

Authority is believed to have recommended to transport minister Stephen

Byers that the firm be awarded the franchise for the trans-Pennine rail

link, while Connex is also bidding to run services in the Welsh borders.

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