Starbucks hires Redfern as UK corporate affairs chief

Starbucks has recruited Pagefield partner Simon Redfern as UK corporate affairs chief in the wake of the company's damaging corporation tax controversy in the country.

Starbucks has recruited Pagefield partner Simon Redfern as UK corporate affairs chief in the wake of the company's damaging corporation tax controversy in the country.

Redfern's impending arrival will end a prolonged period without a senior UK communications figure since the departure of head of communications Tim McCoy for EDF last September.

In the meantime, the US coffee chain has faced attacks on its UK corporate tax record after reports that it paid £8.6 million, or about $13 million, on taxable profits in 14 years of trading.

After the company's insistence that it had behaved in accordance with local tax regulations failed to calm matters, Starbucks UK MD Kris Engskov made the unusual move of volunteering to pay as much as £20 million, or about $30.3 million, in taxes in 2013 and 2014 “regardless of whether the company is profitable.”

Redfern, who will report to Engskov after he joins the company on April 15, told PRWeek UK that corporate tax would be one of the issues in his remit as director of corporate affairs, along with the youth skills agenda and sourcing issues.

Starbucks' SVP of global communications and international public affairs Corey duBrowa said Redfern's role will be “primarily focused on building and sustaining relationships with key UK stakeholders.”

“He'll also be helping our business leaders talk much more about coffee – all the care we invest in it, the quality of the beverages we serve to customers, the ways in which we ethically source coffees around the world,” he added.

It will be the first client-side role in Redfern's mainly public affairs-focused career, which has included five years at Connect Communications and five at Fishburn Hedges, including 18 months working on the Starbucks account in 2007 and 2008.

“I'm looking forward to getting more ‘in front of the camera' in an in-house role and working with the Starbucks team and helping the business tell its great story on coffee, skills, and apprenticeships,” Redfern said.

Mark Gallagher, senior partner at Pagefield, said that “[Redfern] has been with us more or less from the start of the agency, and we will be very sorry to see him go.”

This story originally appeared on the website of PRWeek UK, the sister publication of PRWeek at Haymarket Media.

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