Zurich FS reviews UK PR during European rejig

Zurich Financial Services is reviewing its UK PR operation as its plans to create a single European business division get under way.

The group has yet to decide whether it will appoint a replacement for UK director of comms Jane Reed-Thomas, who moved to the post of global head of internal comms in February.

Reed-Thomas replaced Doris Larmann, who is now global head of comms.

A senior spokeswoman for Zurich’s head office in Switzerland told PRWeek that the group would not be appointing a direct replacement for Reed-Thomas and could make significant changes to the role. But she added that the UK was too important a market for Zurich not to have a senior comms position in London.

Acting head of media relations Wendy May has taken on Reed-Thomas’s duties until a decision on the role is taken. May has covered media relations since November 2003 and previously focused on external relations as well as managing media relations for Zurich’s general insurance business in the UK.

Zurich’s review of communications also puts on hold any appointment to the position of director of government and industry affairs, which fell vacant after the recent departure of Karl Snowden to join HBOS as head of public policy.

Zurich announced its plan to regroup its European businesses in January. Under the restructuring, which took effect on 1 March, operations in Continental Europe, the UK, Ireland and southern Africa have been amalgamated into the Continental Europe arm under divisional CEO Axel Lehmann.

At the beginning of the year, Zurich poached Royal & SunAlliance director of financial comms Malcolm Gilbert, who has since taken up a role as group head of investor relations (PRWeek, 6 January).

Gilbert took over a post that had lain vacant since the surprise departure of Pierre Guigui to Swiss bank UBS.

Zurich was founded in 1872 and is an insurance-based financial services provider. Although based in Switzerland, it has offices in more than 50 countries and employs 64,000 people.

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