Méridien revamp plan triggers agency pitch

Debt-laden luxury hotels group Le Méridien is staging a consumer PR pitch as it prepares a £250m renovation plan.

Four agencies are vying for the PR business, which is set to support the revamp of five of the group’s flagship London hotels, including the Waldorf and Grosvenor House.

Méridien, which was recently in crisis talks to help renegotiate its banking arrangements, said the hire is expected within the next few weeks and will mark its first retained consumer PR agency hire.

The pitch follows hard on the heels of Méridien’s City PR review, which saw four consultancies compete for the financial brief.

Incumbent Financial Dynamics was forced to step down due to a conflict of interest issue with fellow client Guy Hands, the City financier who led the £1.9bn buy-out of the chain two years ago, and is now proposing a rescue plan to reduce the group’s £1bn debts.

Finsbury won the financial account to replace FD.

Méridien vice-president of PR Katie Meyer declined to comment on Hands and FD, except to say: ‘We decided that we wanted to take a new direction in communicating with our shareholders.’

Finsbury will report to Meyer and Méridien CEO Stephen Alexander, who was promoted from deputy chairman last month.

Meyer said Finsbury would handle corporate and financial PR issues, while the yet-to-be-appointed consumer agency will focus primarily on communications surrounding the multi-million revamp.

She said they are yet to decide on hiring for a retainer or project brief.

It is understood Méridien’s debts stem from a £1.2bn sale and leaseback deal with the Royal Bank of Scotland agreed in 2001, before September 11 and the subsequent downturn in the travel industry.

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