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Belinda Collins, Managing Director, Zest

Belinda Collins, Managing Director, Zest

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New Zest boss reveals expansion plans

Belinda Collins, Managing Director, Zest

Belinda Collins, Managing Director, Zest

Belinda Collins became the managing director of creative communications agency, Zest, in June, and has ambitious plans for the future.

The Lordswood-based firm has built brands, marketing campaigns and websites for companies such as Leeds Castle, Locate in Kent, PwC and the Virgin Formula E racing team.

The company was formerly known as thinkzest, and has recently announced a couple of high profile appointments. Firstly Claire Kidd joins the company as new commercial director – her CV includes launching the Dine in for £10 promotion at M&S. The other appointment is Duncan Larcombe, the Sun’s former royal editor, who will provide his services in crisis and reputation management in partnership with the agency from September.

“I want to take us from being a small regional agency to being a medium-sized national agency,” said Ms Collins, who joined the firm in 2007.

“We want to be the best at everything we do. We don’t want to be advertising for jobs. We want to have a bank of CVs because people have heard of us and want to come and work with us.”

Belinda would have preferred to be carrying out her plans with Britain remaining part of the EU, but said: “We have to have belief in our country. We are a force to be reckoned with and we need to show that to Europe and the world.”

However, she believes the vote to leave the EU means there will be tough times ahead.

“We suffer because people hold back their budgets in times of uncertainty,” she said. “We were hit really hard last year with the general election and expected it again this year with the referendum.

“At the point of recession, marketing is the first thing cut from the budget, which is one of the most worrying things to cut. If you are not developing your reputation and alliance with your target audience, you lose that momentum.

“Now there is further uncertainty. All we can do is be positive and be a positive influence on our clients.

“We have to ride out the storm and get on with it.”

Zest has just undergone a rebrand and is relaunching its website soon. It also aims to open a satellite office in London.

“We keep missing out on tender opportunities because clients see the Kent address and have a preconception,” said Ms Collins. “But we will never lose our roots in Kent.”

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