Ex-Sainsbury’s commercial director joins brand agency

Former Sainsbury’s commerical director, Paul Mills-Hicks has been appointed chairman of the new retail division at global brand experience agency, Sense.

Mills-Hicks, who left Sainsbury’s in 2021 after 18 years at the Big 4 grocer, will now be joining Sense’s retail division alongside head of retail, James Willoughby.

Having spent over a decade leading the PepsiCo shopper marketing account, Willoughby arrives with experience in helping to develop creative and strategic campaigns.

Speaking of his role, Mills-Hicks said: “I wanted to work alongside a leadership team with real ambition, dedicated to pushing industry boundaries and helping brands create richer, more personal and more valuable consumer experiences.

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“Sense’s highly creative, innovative and rigorous approach to marketing, where the consumer takes centre stage and ROI is king, is really exciting.”

The pair will work alongside Sense CEO Nick Adams, managing director Sally McLaren and account director Chris MacRae.

Sense, which has worked with clients including Haribo and TikTok, has launched the new division to help FMCG brands with a range of services covering prize promotions, shopper toolkits, key visual creation, path-to-purchase comms, category strategy, B2B campaigns and Amazon optimisation.

Willoughby said: “With many clients now focused on activating in channels more closely associated with a sale, we saw an opportunity to provide a more comprehensive solution for brands that encompasses the moment of truth at fixture.”

He explained that Mills-Hicks’ “vast experience” will help the Sense retail division to create “forward-thinking retail experiences that deliver demonstrable brand value.”

“He, more than most, has seen the good and bad from brands attempting to activate in retail and can quickly short cut to what retailers and consumers want and demand.”

“We will be aiming to make ‘retail fail’ a thing of the past for ambitious brands looking to thrive in an ever-competitive landscape and believe our streamlined team is perfectly placed to do this,” Willoughby added.



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