Thomas Cook hires ex-Sky director of corporate comms Alice Macandrew to new group comms role

Troubled holiday group Thomas Cook has appointed former Sky director of corporate comms Alice Macandrew to the new group comms director role, with current head of comms Mathias Brandes moving to a new European PR position.

Alice Macandrew: Will join Thomas Cook in November
Alice Macandrew: Will join Thomas Cook in November
Macandrew joins on 3 November, reporting to CEO Peter Fankhauser.

The company said: "In this newly created role Alice will assume responsibility for the planning and execution of the group's internal and external communications strategy across all channels including PR, social media, government affairs and CSR."

Thomas Cook said Brandes will return to his native Germany in the New Year and to become head of comms for Continental Europe, responsible for internal and external comms for east, west and central Europe, reporting to Macandrew.

PRWeek reported last month that Thomas Cook had rebuilt its PR team, led by head of PR Ian Benjafield, in the wake of the damaging scandal over its handling of the deaths of two children in Corfu in 2006. Benjafield had been retained by the group as a PR consultant since April 2013, and is now employed full-time. He currently reports to Brandes.

PRWeek reported earlier this year that Macandrew was to leave Sky in July, and was looking for a "big corporate job" in PR.

The former business journalist was previously director of corporate comms at NewsCorp. She resigned at the height of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal after disagreeing with the company’s strategy.

Fankhauser said: "I'm delighted to welcome Alice to the group in her new role. She brings skills and experience, especially in the UK media environment, that will be hugely valuable as we enter the next stage of our transformation.

"Implementing our new operating model to become a truly customer-centric organisation will need strong communication to all our stakeholders and I am looking forward to working with Alice on this exciting journey."

Thomas Cook, which competes with TUI's First Choice and Thomson brands to lead the UK holiday industry, suffered reputational damage in May this year after some of its current and former executives declined to apologise to the parents of Bobby and Christi Shepherd, who died from carbon monoxide poisoning while on holiday in Corfu in 2006.

Fankhauser later announced that Thomas Cook would donate the £1.5m it received in compensation for the incident to Unicef, following accusations that the firm had mismanaged the situation. Fankhauser also finally made a public apology to the family after previously declining to do so when giving evidence at an inquest.

The company has since commissioned an external review of its crisis comms response.

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