Sainsbury's promotes Rebecca Reilly to group corporate affairs director

Group head of communications Rebecca Reilly's remit will now include responsibility for public affairs, as long-serving corporate responsibility, sustainability and public affairs lead Judith Batchelar steps down to pursue a new challenge.

Rebecca Reilly
Rebecca Reilly

Rebecca Reilly, who begins her new role next week, will be responsible for all external and internal communications, and public affairs across the J Sainsbury group, which includes Sainsbury’s, Sainsbury’s Bank, Argos, Nectar, Tu clothing and Habitat.

She will continue to report directly to Sainsbury’s chief executive Simon Roberts.

Reilly’s direct reports are head of brand communications Candice Christian; head of public affairs Richard Casofsky; head of corporate communications Victoria Durman; head of internal communications campaigns Becky Hammond; head of internal communications business Kate Parker; and head of product PR Fleur Wylie.

Reilly joined Sainsbury’s in 2014 as head of corporate communications. She was promoted to group head of external comms in 2017, and to group head of comms in 2020.

She has played a leading role in launching some of Sainsbury’s biggest projects in recent years, including the 150th birthday pop-up that was visited by the Queen; the launch of Sainsbury’s Net Zero by 2040 commitment; Sainsbury’s Inside the Supermarket documentary, which aired on the BBC in 2019; and the supermarket's latest business strategy repositioning to “put food back at the heart of Sainsbury’s”.

Reilly has also led internal and external comms for the group during COVID-19. Supermarkets, including Sainsbury's, have received wide acclaim for the way they have handled comms during the crisis.

“Rebecca’s promotion is a huge vote of confidence in her leadership. Having our external communications, colleague communications and government engagement all under Rebecca will help us land one strategic narrative with these key audiences,” Roberts said.

Prior to Sainsbury’s, Reilly was a director at public affairs firm Open Road (which merged with Blue Rubicon), an associate board director at Freuds, and earlier in her career worked at Weber Shandwick and Propeller Communications.

She takes over responsibility for public affairs, which was previously overseen by director of corporate responsibility and sustainability (CR&S) and public affairs Judith Batchelar, who will leave the retailer later this year after 16 years with the business. The CR&S team will now be led by group head of CR&S Ruth Cranston, who reports to Sainsbury’s chief marketing officer Mark Given.

Batchelar has worked in the food and drink industry for more than 38 years and was awarded an OBE in 2015 for services to farming and the food Industry.

“I would like to thank Judith for the major contribution she has made to our business and our brand over the last 16 years and I’m hugely grateful for her dedication and leadership of our corporate responsibility and sustainability programmes. On behalf of my colleagues, I wish her all the best for the future,” Roberts added.

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