WH Smith to hire new comms chief

Beleaguered retailer WH Smith is on the verge of appointing a new director of comms as the company’s management shakes up its PR in the wake of its poor interim results.

Melissa Duncan, executive assistant to WH Smith CEO Kate Swann, is to take overall control of a slimmed-down PR team within weeks.

Group head of media relations Louise Evans, public affairs head Andy Finch and internal comms manager Jenny Burns will report to Duncan. At present the three mid-ranking PRO positions are the most senior comms roles.

Four PR jobs are to go as part of the shake-up, two of which are in UK retail PR, which will be headed by Sarah Hodgson.

WH Smith is also axing another three PA positions, with Finch taking on corporate PR and sharing CSR and community investment responsibilities with Duncan, who is also to take charge of internal comms.

WH Smith has put on hold the account it awarded to Consolidated Communications last year to promote the retailer’s now-stalled rebrand.

WH Smith’s interim results, for the six months to the end of February unveiled last week saw pre-tax profit falling £26m to £65m and flat UK sales.

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