Sense hires former Sainsbury’s chief for retail launch

senseBrand experience agency Sense is launching a retail division, designed to help clients respond to the ever-evolving landscape, with former Sainsbury’s commercial director Paul Mills-Hicks joining as chairman.

To help FMCG retail brands navigate an increasingly complex and pressurised environment, the new division offers a range of services covering promotions, shopper toolkits, key visual creation, path-to-purchase comms, category strategy, B2B campaigns and Amazon optimisation – all aimed at converting sales through tried and tested tools and techniques.

The move ramps up Sense’s brand offering and brings another skillset for clients.

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

Mills-Hicks is joined by James Willoughby, who arrives at Sense from Initials to take up the role of head of retail. Willoughby spent over a decade leading the PepsiCo shopper marketing account and helping to develop many creative and strategic campaigns for the FMCG brand.

He will report into Sense CEO Nick Adams and will work closely with managing director Sally McLaren and the team, including account director in Chris MacRae.

Sense has also consolidated a handful of strategic relationships to build out its new offering including Jeremy Garlick and the team at Insight Traction. The ex-head of insights for Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Premier Foods. has already been working alongside Sense to provide category, customer and consumer insights for some of its clients.

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.

“Our goal is to create forward-thinking retail experiences that deliver demonstrable brand value and this is helped by having Paul’s vast experience on tap. 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.”

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