February 2014: Gervaise Slowey, CEO, Communicorp Group

Business Person of the Month | Fri 14 Feb | Author – Business & Finance
Gervaise Slowey
 Ruth Curran, managing partner, MERC Partners; Ian Hyland, publisher, Business & Finance; Gervaise Slowey, CEO, Communicorp Group.

International media holding company, Communicorp Group announced this month the proposed acquisition of eight regional radio stations from Global Radio in the UK, joining the company’s existing strong offering of radio stations across Europe and in the Middle East.

The Communicorp Group recently announced that Smooth East Midlands, Smooth North West, Smooth North East, Capital Scotland, Capital South Wales, Real Radio North Wales, Real Radio Yorkshire and Real XS, are set to become part of Groups’s international portfolio – subject to regulatory approvals.

The sale is taking place under the supervision of the UK’s Competition Commission and Communicorp has been approved by the Competition Commission as a suitable owner of the stations. The sale is also subject to the approval of the Competition Authority in Ireland as a media merger.

Under an innovative brand licensing agreement, Communicorp intends to re-brand the ‘Real’ stations under the ‘Heart’ franchise and plans to re-launch the ‘Smooth’ stations following the reintroduction of local programming. Communicorp is committed to supporting Capital in Scotland and South Wales and across the portfolio, and plans to extend its position in Digital Audio Broadcasting, to allow for the localisation of advertising and support the migration to digital listening.

The eight stations have 2.8 million listeners combined, according to Radio Joint Audience Research. On completion of the transaction, Communicorp intends to retain the experienced management team of Real & Smooth Limited. Mark Lee will remain as CEO and continue to lead the business.

Leading Communicorp’s team of in excess of 1,000 people is CEO, Gervaise Slowey. A DCU graduate, Slowey began her career at CPC Foods Ireland (now part of Unilever) as brand manager. In 1993, she moved to the agency side with BBDO Düsseldorf working on multinational accounts in Germany. She was later appointed European account director at BBDO for its Mars business.

Slowey moved to Ogilvy in 1996 as client service director for central and eastern Europe, based in Vienna, and later managing the business across EMEA. She returned to Ireland in 2003 and was appointed managing director of Ogilvy in Dublin in 2006. While she initially combined her international Ogilvy role with her Dublin MD responsibilities, in February 2008, she decided to focus solely on the Dublin agency.

Slowey was appointed chief executive officer of Communicorp Group in February 2013.

Speaking at the company’s latest acquisition announcement, Slowey, said: “We have been looking at the UK market for some time now and we are delighted to be adding these radio stations to the Communicorp Group. Each of these stations has a strong and loyal following and this move will make Communicorp the fourth largest commercial radio group, in the UK. The brand licence agreement that we have in place with Global for Heart, Capital and Smooth will allow us to combine the strength of a national brand, with a local presence. We feel that this will provide the best customer offerings to each of the stations’ audiences.”

Also speaking about the announcement, Lucy Gaffney, Communicorp chairperson, said: “This acquisition will bring the total number of radio stations, under the Communicorp umbrella, to 27. It further reinforces Communicorp’s position as an international market leader in the commercial radio industry – with a strong presence in Ireland, Bulgaria, Latvia, Jordan and now, the UK. We are constantly looking at opportunities to grow our business and this move into the UK was a natural fit for us. These eight radio stations have shown great resilience in recent years and we look forward to continuing to drive each station to their full potential.”

Communicorp is the parent firm for a number of radio stations and digital media service companies. It was founded in 1989 by Denis O’Brien and currently employs about 1,000 people across seven countries.

CV highlights

  • Appointed CEO of Communicorp Group in February 2013.
  • Formally managing director of Ogilvy & Mather Dublin from 2006-2011; global client director for Ogilvy from 2011-2013.
  • Also served as European account director with BBDO Germany and brand manager with CPC Foods.
  • Served as non executive Board director of Easons since March 2012.
  • Holds a business degree from DCU.

Merc logoBusiness & Finance, Business Person of the Month

Business & Finance, in association with MERC Partners, has been rewarding excellence in business through the ‘Business Person of the Month’ award over the last number of years. These awards seek to recognise noteworthy achievements in business leadership, and particularly those that make a telling contribution to the wider business community in Ireland.