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
Despite Rank’s apparent shift to PR glasnost, Lowe Bell Financial
chairman Piers Pottinger was unable to confirm details of the brief or