B&Q recruits WH Smith man for top brand role

B&Q has rejigged its top-level marketing team, poaching its former marketing controller Nigel Leahy back from WH Smith to fill a new brand position.

Under marketing director David Roth, the DIY retailer has divided its marketing team into two divisions: brand marketing and special order.

Leahy, who left B&Q for WH Smith two years ago to be marketing unit director, joins as director of brand marketing and will front the development of what B&Q is calling "new and stronger campaigns" for 2004.

This will include overseeing its £32m advertising account, handled by J Walter Thompson, which was appointed in June, and in-store material.

B&Q is the UK's 35th-biggest advertiser.

Roth has appointed B&Q International's director of commercial, Justin Lees, to the new role of director of special order marketing. He will be responsible for developing the mail-order side of the business.

Both Leahy and Lees will report to Roth. The shake-up is thought to have been the reason behind the axing of director of marketing operations Breffni Walsh earlier this month, after just 15 months in the role (Marketing, November 13).

Separately, B&Q chief executive Bill Whiting is retiring and will be replaced by managing director, commercial, Rob Cissell.

The restructure comes as B&Q prepares for the crucial Christmas season.

Sales at the chain remain strong: this month B&Q unveiled a 2.7% rise on like-for-like sales for the 13 weeks to November 1.

Leahy has been replaced at WH Smith by brand communications director and former Ocado marketer Katie Spriggs, who joined the high-street retailer last month.

Leahy reported to WH Smith retail brand director Muriel Stirling. He led a team of 33 marketers across advertising, brand strategy, in-store promotion, Clubcard, direct marketing, events and PR.

Last month, WH Smith reported poor trading figures. UK retail sales were down 2% to £1.48bn in the year to the end of August.

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