NEWS: Wickes selects DR for City crisis work

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.

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

supplier contribution’.



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

change’.



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

incumbent’.



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