French national railways company SNCF has brought in a new director
of communication, following the decision of its current communication
director, Jean Berthezene, to leave the rail group.
Berthezene is to move to a senior post at a public relations agency.
His successor, Jean-Marie Gerbeaux, will join SNCF in January, at a time
when the group splits into two, with one company running the rail
infrastructure and SNCF continuing to run the train service.
Gerbeaux has worked for Elf Aquitaine, France’s largest oil company,
since 1995. He was director of communications until May, when he was
appointed adviser to the president and chief executive officer.
Prior to his job at Elf he was communications director at Disneyland
Paris for six years, before which he spent 18 years at Renault.
At SNCF, he will be responsible for 100 PR staff who carry out
activities including publicity, events and internal communications.
SNCF has just started a major advertising campaign in the French press,
emphasising the quality of its service.
BDDP Corporate, the public relations arm of advertising agency BDDP
Group, has been undertaking an internal communications audit for the
SNCF’s chairman, Louis Gallois, is in the process of turning around the
financial fortunes of the rail firm. In 1996, the group made a loss of
pounds 15 billion, although Gallois expects the loss to be cut to pounds
200 million by the end of 1997.