Whitbread hires CDR in bid to change its image

Hotel, leisure and restaurant group Whitbread is to launch a PR blitz to bolster its corporate reputation and more clearly define the company’s image.

The group has hired Citigate Dewe Rogerson for the brief. CDR director Holly Barron is leading the account and reports to Whitbread corporate communications manager Julie Weldon.

Weldon, who joined the group from engineering firm Invensys last year (PRWeek, 31 October 2003) said Whitbread had created the new account as part of a change of comms focus from establishing Whitbread’s financial credentials to establishing a new image for the company.

‘Over the last three or four years we have focused predominantly on financial audiences. But now we have done that and there is an opportunity for us to speak to broader corporate audiences,’ she said.

Weldon added that part of the brief would be to change public perception of Whitbread as a brewer and pub operator. The company has largely withdrawn from those businesses in favour of restaurants, hotels and leisure companies.

She revealed CDR would support the company’s efforts to become recognised as a good place to work and as a major employer and contributor to the UK economy.

The appointment does not affect Whitbread’s relationship with Tulchan Communications, which continues to be its retained financial comms adviser.

Whitbread’s key brands include David Lloyd Leisure, Marriot Hotels (UK) and Travel Inn. Its restaurant division includes Brewers Fayre and Beefeater.

The company also owns the Costa coffee shop chain, operates Pizza Hut UK under a joint venture agreement with Yum! Brands, and TGI Fridays under franchise from Carlson.

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