NEWS: WH Smith chooses first group press manager

WH Smith, the troubled high street group, has appointed its first group press manager as part replacement for former corporate affairs director Kevin Hawkins and indicated it may scrap his job altogether.

WH Smith, the troubled high street group, has appointed its first group

press manager as part replacement for former corporate affairs director

Kevin Hawkins and indicated it may scrap his job altogether.



Neville Wells, corporate affairs manager at pub chain Greenalls, will

join the retailer in January working alongside investor relations

manager Anna Passey.



As co-ordinator of WH Smith’s communications Wells will take over part

of the role filled by Hawkins, who quit to join Safeway in June (PR

Week, 30 June).



Rodney Buse, WH Smith’s personnel director and acting corporate affairs

director said it was putting the appointment of a replacement ‘on hold’

until its new chief executive Bill Cockburn starts next year.



Buse added that Cockburn may decide not to appoint a new director.



‘We are keeping our options open,’ he said. ‘We want two very able

people to manage our media and City PR. If they are good enough they

will report directly to Bill.’



Buse said the new job was borne out of a need to ‘build a reputation’

for the group, which includes Virgin Our Price and Waterstone’s.



WH Smith came under fire from the media following disappointing

financial results and over 1,000 redundancies in August.



It is also facing increasing competition from supermarkets looking to

introduce magazines, books and compact discs.



Audrey Lloyd-Kitchen, director of corporate affairs at Greenalls, which

acquired Boddingtons two months ago, is looking for a financial PR

specialist to replace Wells.



Greenalls has hired Hill and Knowlton to handle corporate and public

affairs in the North West to highlight the job and investment

opportunities created by the merger.



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