LONDON—Richard Kanareck has joined fast-growing UK energy company OVO Energy as its first chief communications officer, after departing FleishmanHillard last year.

Kanareck, who spent four years as UK MD of Fleishman, returns to the client side after previously working at eBay.

At OVO Energy he reports to founder and CEO Stephen Fitzpatrick, and is charged with overseeing an integrated function that covers everything from brand marketing to public policy.

The newly-created role sees communications take on a higher priority as OVO Energy aims to step up awareness of its challenger brand positioning in the UK energy market, which is dominated by the 'big six' suppliers.

"It's an exciting time to be coming on board — Stephen's a visionary leader," Kanareck told the Holmes Report. "Brand and communications has a huge role to play in maintaining and building on the momentum of the last five years."

The company tripled in size over the past year, growing its customer base to more than 400,000 and headcount to over 500. Among its backers is Al Gore, who has invested £8m in OVO Energy.

The investment is being used to bolster the company's technology and management team, ahead of a potential flotation.