Starbucks hires RLM Finsbury for tax issue guidance

LONDON: Starbucks is working with RLM Finsbury to guide the coffee giant through its reputation-damaging UK tax avoidance issues.

LONDON: Starbucks is working with RLM Finsbury to guide the coffee giant through its reputation-damaging UK tax avoidance issues.

The global coffee chain appointed Roland Rudd's agency last week with an initial focus on responding to the tax issues dubbed "outrageous" by Margaret Hodge, chair of the UK's Public Accounts Committee, which scrutinizes government spending.

RLM Finsbury is thought to have advised Starbucks around its decision to review its accounting practices, and helped prepare a statement issued over the weekend that the company is planning to increase its corporation tax contributions.

The WPP firm's involvement is understood to be led by David Henderson, a partner and former Downing Street economics adviser who was responsible for preparing Gordon Brown and David Cameron for Prime Minister's Questions. Rudd is also thought to be actively advising Starbucks.

A Starbucks spokesperson told PRWeek UK: "RLM Finsbury has been engaged to advise Starbucks on specific issues in relation to tax and associated reputation matters." RLM Finsbury declined to comment.

Starbucks retains Edelman to provide corporate advice on a global basis, a relationship that remains unaffected.

While Starbucks' tax issues have been the trigger for RLM Finsbury's engagement, it is thought the agency is providing wider reputation advice. It is understood the two parties have not yet finalised whether the project brief will evolve into a longer-term relationship.

Finsbury is thought to have been brought in thanks to its financial comms expertise and ability to engage on tax policy.

One senior corporate PR agency figure said Starbucks needed to align its day-to-day operations with its comms operation, as "one hand doesn't seem to know what the other is doing."

A version of this article originally appeared on the website of PRWeek UK, the sister publication of PRWeek at Haymarket Media.

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