Sainsbury’s head of press, Michelle Lewis, is to quit the supermarket
giant at the end of the month.
Lewis, who heads a department of four, is returning to her native New
Zealand after four years in Sainsbury’s 25-strong communications
Her departure will coincide with the implementation of a review
commissioned by Sainbury’s marketing director Ivor Hunt (PR Week, 4
Lewis said the staff numbers will be boosted in internal communications,
corporate affairs and local PR.
However, it is now unlikely that communications and marketing will merge
due to the arrival of new marketing director Kevin McCarten next year.
Sainsbury is advertising internally for a replacement for Lewis to
handle media relations, crisis management and communications strategy.
The job will also now include media training for Sainsbury’s employees.
The store is currently building a sound-proofed media training studio
for use in interviews.
Sainsbury’s disappointing financial results last week led chairman David
Sainsbury to reflect that the store did not communicate its initiatives
‘as well as we would have liked’.
Lewis said: ‘I think the blame lies with communications in the broader
sense including advertising, design, marketing and customer services.’
She said Sainsbury’s regular customers understood Sainsbury’s ‘core
values’ but communication ‘was not as convincing with occasional
In addition, Sainsbury’s has made a series of PR blunders. Earlier this
year David Sainsbury dismissed rival Tesco’s loyalty scheme as a
marketing gimmick akin to ‘electronic Green Shield stamps’, but
Sainsbury later expanded its Saver Card scheme to 200 stores.
The store was also advised by the ITC to change its TV adverts when
customers complained it was not keeping its promise to open a checkout
every time a queue formed.