BSA hires external relations chief

The Building Societies Association has hired Barclays Bank communications manager Rachel Blackmore as its external relations manager.

She joins the BSA, which represents the UK's 65 building societies including Britannia and Nationwide, after three years with Barclays, where she was public affairs manager and most recently internal comms manager.

Her new role is set to take her into direct opposition with high street banks as it attempts to boost building society customer numbers. She said: 'I will work to promote the benefits of a mutual. This includes highlighting the fact that mutuals answer to their members, not just shareholders. Mutuals are also committed to keeping local branches open.'

Blackmore, who reports to director-general Adrian Coles, is responsible for all PR and public affairs for the body and heads a two-strong team.

She said it was also important to promote to building society customers the case for staying as a mutually run business, rather than, 'being taken over by carpetbaggers', adding: 'The long-term gains far outweigh the short-term windfall that is offered.'

In recent years a number of building societies including the Halifax have de-mutalised.

Blackmore, who was an account manager at Shandwick Public Affairs before joining Barclays, replaces Jennifer Holloway, who has left to join the Skipton Building Society as head of corporate PR.

Earlier this month Britannia CEO Graham Stow was elected BSA chairman for 2002/2003. Skipton CEO John Goodfellow was appointed deputy chairman.

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