Insurance giant appoints Emmott for image revival

Troubled insurance giant Royal & Sun Alliance has drafted in Jarvis’s director of strategic comms Richard Emmott to lead its PR work.

Emmott is to take the title of director of corporate communications, a role created to oversee a newly merged group level comms team, bringing together marketing, PR, media relations and public affairs.

According to director of financial communications Malcolm Gilbert, a priority for Emmott – who was unavailable for comment as PRWeek went to press – will be to look at ways to turn around a spate of negative publicity.

This follows a tumultuous recent past for the firm, which was hit hard by a stock market slump, asbestos claims and flood liabilities.

Last year 900 jobs were cut in the UK, and already assets in Australia and New Zealand have been spun-off in order to raise money.

The firm also became embroiled in the ‘fat cat’ pay debate this April, when axed chief executive Bob Mendelsohn was given a pay-off reported to total £2.44m.

Despite coverage of this story, Gilbert believes that media interest in the firm on the whole has been more positive over the last four to six months.

Gilbert added that Emmott will also oversee a continuing programme of ‘rationalisation’ that has already included an unspecified number of job losses within communications. He did not rule out further job cuts.

Emmott’s remit does not include overseeing the work of Gilbert or the country-specific communications heads.

His arrival next month reunites him with Royal & Sun Alliance chairman John Napier, who is also chairman of Kelda Group, which Emmott left to join Jarvis earlier this year.

Emmott’s departure from Jarvis comes after just three months with the facilities management firm. His director of strategic communications role was newly created to conduct a review of the firm’s communications structure, strategy and relationship with external agencies.

His appointment came as the firm was battling to deal with negative coverage surrounding the Potters Bar train crash.

The firm’s role as the track maintenance contractor at the site is still under investigation by the Health and Safety Executive. Relatives of the crash victims are still considering legal action against the firm.

A Jarvis spokeswoman said that it was likely the firm would seek to replace Emmott.

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