Severn Trent picks CRM chief for marketing task

Beleaguered water company Severn Trent Water has handed all marketing responsibilities for the group to director of customer relations Jonathan Bailey, following the departure of Nic Budden.

Budden, who was in charge of marketing, resigned as managing director of Severn Trent’s retail services division following an investigation into his CV and references. This is thought to have been instigated after allegations surfaced in the national press that his former employer, Cable & Wireless had investigated him over expenses claims.

A spokesman for Severn Trent says that the company is not looking for a group-wide marketing director and that Bailey will handle all marketing and advertising, including external communications, for the group’s businesses. Bailey will report to Severn Trent Water managing director Tony Wray.

The future of the retail services division of Severn Trent, which offers telecoms and insurance products, looks to be in doubt. The company is conducting a review of the business and says no decisions have been made.

Severn Trent’s image has been battered of late. Ofwat is investigating claims by a former Severn Trent executive that the company misled the regulator after it handed incorrect figures to justify high price increases, which the regulator then agreed to.

A spokesman for Ofwat says the regulator is examining the figures and hopes to make a decision soon as to whether the agreed price rises were justified. He adds that Severn Trent has given assurances that any customers who turn out to have been overcharged will be compensated.

Provident Financial, owner of Yes Car Credit, is launching an online sister arm, yesinsurance.co.uk, for people with low-value and older cars.

It is gearing up for a major advertising blitz, thought to be worth several million pounds, to support the launch, which includes television and press advertising, direct mail, directories and door-drops, along with a “substantial” online campaign.

It says that the new online insurance arm will offer cheaper motor insurance to people who own cars that are over five years old, are low- mileage drivers or second-car owners.

Yes Car Credit, which caters for people with low credit ratings, spent more than &£7m on advertising last year, according to Nielsen Media Research. However, it is thought to have cut down on advertising spend this year following the negative publicity it received in a BBC documentary in March, when undercover reporters claimed that customers were misled and inspections on cars were sub-standard.

Provident, which bought the company from Candover in 2002, has said the division is unlikely to make a profit this year.

Yesinsurance.co.uk had applied for a trademark mirroring the green and yellow “Yes” logo of the car credit arm, although it is unlikely now to use that logo, instead favouring a red and white speech bubble logo used in its early communications.

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