Agencies dropped in United Utilities cuts

United Utilities has ended its relationships with Luther Pendragon and Lowe Bell Political following the shake-up of its communications department.

United Utilities has ended its relationships with Luther Pendragon

and Lowe Bell Political following the shake-up of its communications

department.



Lowe Bell Political has worked on United Utilities’ public affairs

account for three years, while Luther Pendragon was brought in

two-and-a-half years ago to handle issues management.



Luther Pendragon chief executive George Pitcher said he understood the

rationale behind the decision: ’The utilities have been through a highly

political period which has now ended so it’s logical for us to be stood

down.’



The company has survived a turbulent period, tackling ’fat cat’

criticism, regulatory reviews and boardroom in-fighting. Chief executive

Brian Staples quit the company last July to be replaced by Derek Green.

In August chairman Sir Desmond Pitcher was forced to step down and was

replaced by Sir Christopher Harding.



Group director of communications John Drummond explained that the

company had recently completed a review of communications needs with the

merging of the PR departments of United Utilities’ subsidiaries North

West Water and Norweb Distribution (PR Week, 30 January 1998).



’We formed a single flexible team and this will improve our efficiency,’

Drummond said. ’In practice this will mean we are less dependent on

external agencies.’



Drummond added that he expects to reduce the total in-house team. It is

understood that a small number of posts in the communications department

have been axed.



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