LONDON — Online and high street retailer Sports Direct has appointed Pitch Marketing Group as its retained PR agency after a competitive pitch.

The account, which had been held by The Romans since 2020, will sit within the agency’s consumer communications division, Pitch PR, and will be led by head of PR Lucy Hutchinson.

As Sports Direct’s retained agency, Pitch will be responsible for PR strategy, ongoing media relations, and delivering creative ideas and campaigns for “flagship moments” and calendar events.

The UK retailer has been widely criticised over the past few years, including for its response to the pandemic, which impacted on its brand reputation.

However, chief marketing officer Beckie Stanion, who joined the firm in 2020 and was previously a director at communications agency Mission, said Sports Direct had undergone “a significant transformation” in recent months, including a reappraisal of its brand values and the launch of a new identity centred on the power of sport as a great equaliser.

One of Pitch’s tasks will be to shine a light on Sports Direct’s Equal Play initiative and its investment at the grassroots level to accelerate equality and inclusivity in sport.

Stanion said: “We were truly blown away by Pitch – not just by the final presentation of their ideas, but by their insights, their creativity, the quality of their response and their approach towards the pitch process from start to finish. Their ambition and authenticity really shone through, and their values are so clearly aligned with the new direction we are taking as a brand. The passion and enthusiasm they demonstrated for our Equal Play initiative was particularly inspiring and proved that they really understand the importance of the challenge.”

Pitch Marketing Group founding partner Henry Chappell added: “What excites us most at Pitch is working with clients who want to think bigger and create a positive impact in society. And Sports Direct is certainly aiming to do that, as they look to challenge and change perceptions, and to reposition themselves amongst both new and existing audiences. Sports Direct is undoubtedly on a transformational journey, and we can’t wait to be part of it.”

Sports Direct joins Pitch’s roster of consumer PR clients, including Asics, BT, Beats and Red Bull.