Co-op Bank boosts comms efforts amid ongoing troubles

Crisis-hit Co-operative Bank has drafted in former GlaxoSmithKline communications director Alice Hunt and financial PR agency Lansons.

Alice Hunt: previously CEO of volunteering charity Join In
Alice Hunt: previously CEO of volunteering charity Join In

The news follows one of the worst years in its history and comes ahead of financial results expected to show a loss running to hundreds of millions of pounds.

Doubts over the bank's financial health emerged last April when the Co-op abandoned its planned acquisition of part of Lloyds Banking Group and in June it was announced the bank needed a £1.5bn bailout.

In December the bank was separated from the Co-operative Group as a result of a hedge fund-led rescue package that reduced the group’s shareholding in the bank to 30 per cent.

The hiring of Hunt in the new role of director of communications is part of efforts to build up a communications function in the wake of the separation.

This week the bank illustrated that it has yet to put its troubles behind it when it announced it needed to raise another £400m of capital to cover charges relating to conduct and legal documentation issues.

Its CEO Niall Booker said the development meant that ambitions to embark on an IPO this year were now "some way off".

Hunt, who joined earlier this month, told PRWeek she was planning to hire more communications staff to work alongside those who have transferred over from the Co-operative Group.

She has responsibility for media and government relations, corporate affairs and internal communications.

Lansons has been advising the bank’s management team on communications since last spring, with a team led by joint MD Laura Hastings and change and employee engagement head Scott McKenzie.

Following the separation Lansons has taken over responsibility for the bank’s external communications brief from Tulchan, which still works for the Co-operative Group. The Lansons external team is led by its CEO Tony Langham.

Hunt was previously CEO of a charity called Join In, which was set up to sustain the nation's interest in volunteering in the wake of the Olympics, and before that was director of communications for Pearson International.

Her stint at Join In only lasted a few months. She said she was brought in to write the charity's three-year business plan and secure funding and she secured £4.15m over three years.

"Having done this I decided I wanted to come back to comms and coincidentally got the call about the Co-op job," she added.

Of her new role she said: "There’s been a huge amount of change over the six months and making sure stakeholders understand that is particularly important."

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