Stephen Lane, Thomson's head of product innovation for the past two years, steps up to a head of comms role next month. He emerges as the leading UK communicator within the ranks of the two travel behemoths.
Reporting to sales director Derek Jones, Lane's initial brief is to take charge of Thomson's press and comms function, moulding a new ‘streamline' team. He will also seek a PR agency to help reposition the firm post-merger.
Thomson's parent TUI is Europe's leading holiday firm, headquartered in Hanover, Germany, but with a UK HQ in Luton.
If the merger with First Choice goes through, TUI Thomson intends to retain the First Choice brand, as well as the Thomson name.
‘We want to challenge the perception of Thomson as simply a supplier of package holidays,' said Lane.
There is speculation that the merged company will see thousands of redundancies. ‘We are in the middle of a tough restructure and trimming the [PR] department is inevitable,' he said.
Thomson has been without a head of comms since Rachel O'Reilly left the firm last autumn to become director of consumer PR agency Siren (PRWeek, 29 September 2006).
TUI this week brought in City agency Maitland to help manage the First Choice deal.