Newswatch – Rank needs turnaround

Bets are being placed on whether CIMA accountant Mike Smith can reverse the ailing fortunes of Rank Group when he takes the hot seat as chief executive in April.

The entertainment giant’s 1998 results, due to be announced today, will reflect a difficult year. Pre-tax profits of #195m for the first nine months were 14% down on the same period in 1996.

Rank’s difficulties resulted in the departure last October of Smith’s predecessor Andrew Teare, who presided over a fall in the group’s market value from #4bn to #1.75bn.

Analysts have expressed particular concerns about the value of some of Rank’s brands, which include Butlins, Odeon, Hard Rock Cafe and Mecca Bingo. This had led to speculation about whether Rank should carve up some its operations and sell them, but it is thought the appointment of Smith, who is also an MBA, makes this less likely.

Smith is currently executive director of Ladbroke’s betting and gaming operations. He has also been finance director of Reliant and of British Leyland’s European and overseas operations.

Since Teare’s departure, Rank’s reins have been held by chartered accountant Douglas Yates, formerly commercial and finance director. Rank hopes he will stay on in an unspecified capacity when Smith arrives.

Related reading