Spirit Group brings in Tate for public affairs

Spirit Group, one of the UK's largest pub firms, has hired Fishburn Hedges' Victoria Tate for the newly created role of head of public affairs as the industry faces up to its biggest challenges in years.

Tate, who joins in May from a board director role at FH, will take responsibility for Spirit's handling of legislative issues affecting the company, such as licensing reform, the smoking ban and a clampdown on binge drinking.

One of the main challenges for Tate will be the planned legislative clampdown on smoking in public places across the UK, with the toughest proposals affecting Scotland. This will involve ensuring legislation is adhered to throughout the group.

Legislation aimed at tackling irresponsible promotion is another issue facing the drinks sector.

The new Licensing Act in England - and reform ongoing in Scotland - are contributing to a changing industry. Measures include the planned abolition of restricted opening hours (which could allow pubs to serve alcohol around the clock) and the switch of different types of licences towards a 'one-licence-fits-all' regime.

'It was an opportunity I felt I couldn't ignore because I will be dealing with some of the most stimulating aspects of current affairs,' said Tate.

Tate has been with FH for eight years. In that time, she has worked extensively on government briefs, particularly for the Department of Health and the Home Office.

Prior to that she worked for PR agency Sector, and before that the British Nuclear Industry Forum.

Spirit owns more than 2,000 pubs across the UK. It was formed out of the demerger of Punch Group in April 2002, taking 1,035 managed pubs from the company, acquiring a further 1,400 from Scottish & Newcastle in November 2003.

It has three divisions - Spirit Pubs & Bars, Spirit Food and Devco.

Its branded outlets include Chef & Brewer, Henry's and Firkin.

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