Ultimate seeks financial comms shop after coup

The North-East bar and nightclub owner Ultimate Leisure is to hire a financial comms agency after a boardroom takeover last month.

Former Yates CEO Mark Jones, who was installed as chairman of Ultimate last month, told PRWeek that he would bring in a financial shop for Ultimate's results, which are due later this month.

However, Jones said he would not necessarily hold a pitch for the work, and named Financial Dynamics and Citigate Dewe Rogerson as agencies in the running.

CDR worked with Jones last year on his GI Partners-backed buyout of Yates.

FD was Yates's retained adviser (PRWeek, 11 June 2004).

Jones also said Ultimate would hire an agency to promote its Coyote Wild-branded bars in Derby, Mansfield and South Shields.

The financial comms agency is likely to have an important role beyond the results meeting, as it is when Jones and Colin Rowlinson, who has been named development director, will present the group's new operating strategy.

The Jones-led team was installed after a shareholder revolt last month led by financial services and property group Dawnay Day.

The move was the climax of months of shareholder discontent, which began in April after two of the company's co-founders, Stephen and John Rankin, sold shares in Ultimate weeks before the company issued a profit warning.

Both brothers have denied knowing that the profit warning was coming.

On the day of a second profit warning in July and during the next two days, chairman Allan Rankin sold 1.35 million shares.

The company has blamed poor performance on local competition, but analysts have been concerned that the firm warned that profits for the year to June 2006 would be 'materially' lower than the year to June 2005, only two weeks into the financial year.

Ultimate started with five bars and one hotel in 1997 and floated on AIM in 1999 raising £6m. It now owns more than 30 sites in the northeast.

As well as Coyote Wild, Ultimate owns Newcastle quayside nightclub Sea Nightclub and Chase lounge bars in Newcastle, Sunderland and Durham.

The Beach Party, in Newcastle, Sunderland, Rotherham and Belfast, is also an Ultimate brand.

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