Tesco hires Yelland to avert media backlash

Tesco has appointed former Sun editor David Yelland to provide 'strategic advice', prompting his employer Weber Shandwick to resign its account with its nearest challenger Asda.

Yelland will provide Tesco senior management, including CEO Sir Terry Leahy, with media counsel as the supermarket giant tries to avoid a backlash against its unrelenting growth.

Tesco company secretary and corporate affairs director Lucy Neville-Rolfe said: 'David will be providing strategic advice on both internal and external communications and will bring his special skills to help us across the board'.

Asda hired WS at the start of 2004 on a wide-ranging brief to uphold its reputation in government circles. It called in Bell Pottinger Public Affairs late last week to plug the void created by WS's exit on what is understood to be a much smaller contract. Asda's financial PR adviser is sister Chime agency Bell Pottinger Corporate & Financial.

Tesco made record profits of £2bn last year. It holds a 30 per cent market share among Britain's supermarkets and has announced plans to open shops that sell no food. But it faces accusations of mistreating suppliers and helping to destroy community identities, and is keen to keep the national press on-side.

Yelland, who was unveiled as WS's senior vice-chairman a year ago this week, continues to provide media advice to Coca-Cola GB and Wembley Stadium developer Multiplex.

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