Hilton lures Seal's Jones to oversee growth in UK

Premier hotel chain Hilton has appointed the director of Seal Communications’ London office to its top UK and Ireland post.

Katrina Jones will become director of comms for the international firm when she joins on 22 May.

She will report to UK and Ireland president Howard Friedman, who said Jones had been hired to establish a comms plan that would support the chain's development and investment plans.

Jones, who led Seal's work on Hilton's Arabian Peninsular project, said she felt it was 'time for a change' after working on the agency side for more than ten years.

'My first project will be to launch new hotels in Canary Wharf, Tower Bridge and Manchester Deansgate,' she said.

Seal will be working on a project basis to launch the London hotels, but Jones will be on the hunt for a Manchester agency to handle the Deansgate launch.

Jones said the 70-strong chain would continue its practice of using agencies on a project basis.

She said she would also be looking to recruit a comms manager to work alongside comms executive Elizabeth Le Coze.

Jones replaces Andy Collingridge, who left the post last summer to set up Parkhill Communications with InterContinental Hotels director of group comms Leslie McGibbon (PRWeek, 2 September 2005).
In the interim, the post has been shared between Friedman and Hilton International V-P of comms Linda Bain (PRWeek, 6 August 2005).

Jones said her role also included crisis comms, and she had observed 'with interest' the tactics of the chain's biggest UK rival, Marriott, after last Sunday's 'Spurs lasagne' affair.

In February, Hilton International was sold to the US-based Hilton Hotels Corporation for £3.3bn.

In March, the chain put two of its flagship UK properties – the 1,054-bedroom London Metropole and the 794-bedroom Birmingham Metropole – on the market for a rumoured £400m.

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