Gainsborough’s appointment comes weeks after Debenhams axed the director of corporate communications role held by Joanna George, who has since left PR to have a baby.
The appointment confirms the end of the department store’s relationship with financial specialist Tulchan Communications (PRWeek, 14 January).
Andy Cornelius, Gainsborough director and former Citigate Dewe Rogerson managing director, is leading the account and reports to Debenhams PR controller Justine Allister, the most senior PRO following George’s exit.
Cornelius has a history of working with Debenhams chief executive Rob Tempelman and finance director Chris Woodhouse.
While at CDR, Cornelius handled PR for the pair when they ran DIY chain Homebase.
As investor relations is now obsolete to Debenhams as a private company, all corporate PR responsibilities have been assumed by Allister.
Whereas George reported to previous Debenhams finance director Matthew Roberts, Allister reports to Debenhams head of marketing Alison Jones and is responsible for consumer and corporate branding.
Allister runs a PR team of around ten people and also works closely with Woodhouse, who retains overall control of Debenhams PR.
A Debenhams spokesman said the new communications structure had been installed at the company to ‘ensure that all of our efforts are directed to our customers, who are the main focus of our business’.