NEWS: Lowe Bell beats two to pull Rank

Lowe Bell Financial has beaten off Dewe Rogerson and Shandwick Consultants to land a pounds 100,000-plus financial PR account for British leisure industry giant The Rank Organisation.

Lowe Bell Financial has beaten off Dewe Rogerson and Shandwick

Consultants to land a pounds 100,000-plus financial PR account for

British leisure industry giant The Rank Organisation.



Lowe Bell began work this week with a brief to raise the profile of

Rank, whose interests include Butlins holiday camps, bingo clubs, Odeon

cinemas, Pinewood Studios and the Hard Rock Cafe chain.



The appointment is a blow to Shandwick which has worked for Rank since

1990 covering press relations, investor relations and contact with

leisure industry analysts. However, the fee value of the business to

Shandwick is thought to have been less than half Lowe Bell’s fees -

reflecting Rank’s decision to invest in its public image. Shandwick also

retains a significant chunk of public affairs work for the group.



Lowe Bell takes over at a critical time for Rank. Chief executive

Michael Gifford steps down in May and will be replaced by Andrew Teare,

chief executive of English China Clays - a Lowe Bell client for more

than six years.



A key element to the brief is understood to involve tackling the group’s

longstanding reputation as being hostile and uncommunicative with the

press. ‘The standard press comment for Rank was ‘no comment’,’ according

to one PR industry observer.



Other tasks may include tackling concerns over the dent in Rank’s bingo

earnings attributed to the National Lottery and a possible demerger of

the company’s diverse interests. Rank Precision Industries has already

been earmarked for sale, while Hard Rock Cafe could become a separate

listed company.



Despite Rank’s apparent shift to PR glasnost, Lowe Bell Financial

chairman Piers Pottinger was unable to confirm details of the brief or

appointment.



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