National Express loses comms boss to QinetiQ

National Express's director of group comms is leaving after seven years to take the top PR role at defence and security firm QinetiQ.

As group comms director Nicola Marsden will be res­ponsible for QinetiQ's internal and external comms, public affairs, corporate res­ponsibility and brand marketing. She joins on 31 March.

Marsden has been director of group comms at FTSE 250 firm National Express since 2001. The coach giant, which also runs the C2C, One and East Coast rail services, is yet to replace Marsden in the top comms role. Before joining Natio­nal Express, she worked for City PR firm FD.

Marsden joins as QinetiQ is still shaping its image following the privatisation of the company in 2001 and listing in February 2006.

‘I want to make people more aware of what QinetiQ is about,' said Marsden. ‘It is often difficult for newly lis­ted companies. We will be talking to consumers and the huge number of stakeholders in the business.'

The Government retains a 19 per cent stake in the firm, but last year the National Audit Office (NAO) conducted an inquiry into the privatisation of the firm to determine whether UK taxpayers received good value for money from the sale.

In November, the NAO reported that taxpayers could have gained many millions and criticised rewards for QinetiQ's bosses.

Last month QinetiQ said it expected robust full-year results, after a strong third quarter. The firm's invasion of the lucrative US defence market has apparently begun to pay dividends, with strong orders from across the Atl­antic.

Earlier this month Qine­tiQ made its first move into the Australian market with three acquisitions and a combined historical turnover in excess of £20m a year.

Marsden's appointment follows the exit of Nicky Louth-Davies last year (PRWeek, 8 December 2007). Louth-Davies left QinetiQ to take the senior comms role at Rolls Royce. In the interim, senior comms manager David Bishop has assumed responsibility for Louth-Davies' role. National Express is looking for a permanent replacement.

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