SeaFrance puts last touches to launch of UK operation

Leading French ferry company SeaFrance has recruited the first staff for its new UK operation and is planning a 6m marketing push to prepare for its UK launch on January 1.

The company, a subsidiary of French railway operator SNCF, has been seeking a UK base since it split from its pooling partner in this country – Stena – earlier this year.

Head of sales and marketing at its Dover office is Bill Laidlaw, former managing director of Sealink France’s Newhaven and Dieppe operations. The company is still looking for a managing director.

The new ferry service plans to carry 2.7 million passengers each year – between ten and 11 per cent of the Dover-to-Calais route market.

It will sell itself as the Francophile’s option and fares will compete with rival operators.

Laidlaw is working with CIA Conzept on a year-long marketing contract, before finalising plans for the marketing department structure.

With pitches by Publicis, DFSD Bozell and Bean MC taking place today (Wednesday), Laidlaw expects to appoint an ad agency by the end of the week.

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