Leading transport company First Group has appointed Michael
Mitchell as its first corporate affairs director.
Mitchell is currently investor relations director at Signet Group - the
jewellery retailer formerly known as Ratners.
First Group, which changed its name from First Bus in December 1997 to
reflect its growing rail and air travel concerns, retains Hudson Sandler
for financial PR.
Mitchell will work with one other PR adviser, investor relations
executive Rachael Borthwick. Independent consultant Christopher
Ashton-Jones, who has been working at First Group since October 1997
advising on investor relations and financial PR, will stay on until
First Group is the UK’s biggest bus operator and since October its
market capitalisation has jumped from pounds 660 million to pounds 1.3
billion. This year it caused uproar by acquiring Great Western Holdings,
which owns Great Western Trains and North Western Trains. First Group
already owns Great Eastern Railway.
The company has a majority stake in Bristol International Airport and is
expanding its interests outside the UK. Last month the New World
Company, a consortium including First Group, won a contract to run bus
services in Hong Kong.
First Bus was formed in 1995 from the merger of Badger Line and Grampian
Like other train operating companies, First Group is increasingly
feeling the need to adopt a strong communications strategy with the
City, consumers and the Government. Mitchell’s appointment follows news
that Connex Rail is looking for a communications director.
Meanwhile, Virgin Rail has just appointed Finsbury to handle financial
PR in preparation for its flotation and National Express Group, which
runs Central Trains, Gatwick Express, Midland Mainline, Scotrail, and
Silverlink Train Services, appointed group communications manager Helen
McCorry just before Christmas. And in October, Stagecoach, which runs
South West Trains, re-appointed Bell Pottinger.