First Choice lays off retail chief

First Choice head of high street retail marketing Virginia Dick has been made redundant following a merger of the travel chain’s marketing departments.

All three marketing departments have been folded into the new marketing, product and overseas operations division, which is headed by UK and Ireland marketing director Mike Ryan.

The merger has sparked other departures within the marketing department, though First Choice refused to comment further as Marketing Week went to press.

Ryan claims the restructure was planned before the events of September 11, which have hit the travel and holiday industry hard. The claim is borne out by First Choice’s creation of a joint CRM department in August (MW August 23). The group as a whole has shed 1,100 personnel since the beginning of October.

The marketing teams within the new division will focus on particular aspects of customer contact. Individual teams will be responsible for activity across the holidays, independent travel, retail and airline divisions, and will report to director of marketing Sam Turnbull, formerly e-commerce director.

Reporting to Turnbull are Rachel Clayton, formerly marketing manager for holiday hypermarkets, now head of customer acquisition; Denise Prince, formerly general manager for the Eastern Mediterranean, now head of customer retention; and Adam Jones, formerly head of marketing for First Choice Holidays and now head of branding and product development.

Ryan says the restructuring was part of a vertical integration strategy and added that First Choice’s January advertising campaign will have a budget appropriate to market conditions.

He says there are no plans to review the company’s advertising agency, Walsh Trott Chick Smith. First Choice’s marketing spend for October to September 2001 was &£2m (AC Nielsen MMS).


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