Sainsbury's restructures comms teams and seeks consumer agency to replace Golin

Sainsbury's has restructured its entire in-house comms function and severed ties with Golin, following its acquisition of Argos and Habitat and the departure of comms chief Louise Evans.

Changes began in earnest when Sainsbury's corporate affairs director Louise Evans was made redundant in the summer. Evans had joined the supermarket giant in 2015. A new comms lead has been appointed with a different job title and narrower responsibilities.

It has now also stopped working with consumer PR agency Golin, which it had appointed in 2015, prior to Evans joining the business.

Sainsbury's will begin searching for a new agency to handle consumer PR across its food and brand divisions in the coming weeks, a spokesman confirmed. PRWeek understands Golin will not be invited to pitch for the business.

Other PR agencies used by the group - such as Hope&Glory which recently began work for Argos - are unaffected by the restructure, the spokesman said.

New central team

As part of the restructure, approximately 30 in-house practitioners from across Sainsbury's, Argos and Habitat will now operate as a single team, split into several divisions, based in the supermarket's headquarters in Holborn.

Sainsbury's will also consolidate its three in-house consumer PR teams into one division, but will create two new comms teams across its finance and brands divisions. It is unclear how many people will join each team and division.

These changes were commenced by Evans ahead of her departure, PRWeek has learned.

New comms chief 

The restructure also sees head of corporate comms Rebecca Reilly promoted to the role of group head of external communications.

Reilly will report to Sainsbury's CEO Mike Coupe.

Reilly said: "Our business has been through a significant period of change over the past year, particularly with Argos and Habitat joining the Group. It's critical that our communications division is the right structure to reflect the changes happening within Sainsbury's and the industry, as well as the fast-changing communications landscape. 

"After a comprehensive review, we now have a clearly defined communications strategy that will create a number of exciting new roles across the department. We will also be removing some roles and supporting those colleagues affected by the changes."

A spokesman clarified that there was the "potential" for some redundancies.

Through Evans, Sainsbury's also recently hired Richard Casofsky as its new head of public affairs from McDonald's. He reports to director of Sainsbury's brand, Judith Batchelar.

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