Wickes, the DIY retailer at the centre of a false accounting scandal,
has dropped its retained financial PR adviser Brunswick and hired Dewe
Rogerson to handle the crisis.
DR was called in by Wickes finance director Stuart Stradling last
Wednesday, the day after the company announced it had discovered serious
accounting problems concerning ‘the timing of recognition of profit from
Solicitors Linklaters & Paines and accountancy firm Price Waterhouse
have also been brought in to investigate.
It is understood the problem could affect accounts as far back as 1990,
with some estimates putting the net overstatement at between pounds 20
million and pounds 25 million, compared with the company’s operating
profit for 1995 of pounds 36.7 million.
One of the first tasks for the DR team, led by executive chairman Tony
Carlisle, was to handle the announcement on Thursday morning of the
resignation of Wickes chairman and chief executive Henry Sweetbaum.
It is understood this lay behind the company’s decision to switch
agencies. As one source at Brunswick told PR Week: ‘We were brought in
by Henry, so when he resigned they probably felt it was better to have a
He confirmed the agency was no longer working for Wickes, although there
appeared to be some confusion about this at Wickes.
John Bodie, PR manager for Wickes Properties and one of a two-strong
team handling PR in-house, along with Wickes corporate PR manager Helen
Armsdon, told PR Week the company had ‘not sacked Brunswick but stood
them down on this project’.
Commenting on the reasons for the decision, Bodie said: ‘In the
extraordinary circumstances in which we found ourselves, we decided it
was appropriate to have a new PR look at our activities and DR was
appointed to help.’
Such a move, Carlisle told PR Week, was ‘perfectly normal’ in this type
of situation, and ‘should not be taken as any reflection on the previous