David Highet, former corporate communications director at North West
Water has been named as group director of corporate communications for
Britain’s first multi-utility, United Utilities.
Highet will head a six-strong corporate communications team at the
company, which was formed by North West Water’s November take-over of
regional electricity company Norweb.
Other members of the team will include corporate communications manager
Catherine Cairncross, from Norweb, and group media relations manager
Stephen Hum-phreys, from NWW.
As well as providing overall direction, the unit will support the
divisional PR staff. Highet said this core team would also work closely
with UU’s corporate public affairs and investor relations people.
Of the three business divisions, the largest team will be at UU’s
regulated utility unit, which includes the Norweb and NWW businesses.
The team, of around 12, will be headed by corporate communications
manager John Drummond, from NWW.
UU’s international PR will be led by corporate communications manager,
Gordon Gibson, from NWW.
The utility’s new Vertex division, which will offer customer services
such as billing and enquiry-handling, to external organisations and to
UU’s own businesses, will also have dedicated support.
Highet said UU was still hammering out a communications strategy for
Vertex, which is due to open in April, but thought it might need two PR-
Highet said the division-based PR staff would report to managers in
their own business managers, with a ‘dotted line’ responsibility to him.
‘It is important to me, and the company, that the function is at the
heart of the business and its ultimate goals’.
Highet said that he intended to continue using Lynne Franks PR and Lowe
Bell Communications, the agencies used pre-merger by NWW, and City Press
Services, Norweb’s media relations agency.
He said the 20-strong PR team had not suffered any redundancies but that
the final details of the restruc-ture would not be decided until March.