NEWS: Rank makes plans to tackle media image

Rank Organisation, the UK leisure group, has hired Susan Donovan as its first director of PR in an effort to improve its poor record on communicating with the media.

Rank Organisation, the UK leisure group, has hired Susan Donovan as its

first director of PR in an effort to improve its poor record on

communicating with the media.



Currently operations and media relations manager for brewing and pubs

giant Bass, Donovan joins Rank on 3 October. Her precise role remains

unclear, although it is likely to include overall responsibility for

corporate PR and co-ordinating communications for Rank’s subsidiaries.

These include the Hard Rock Cafe chain, bingo clubs, Odeon cinemas and

Butlins. Internal communications for Rank’s 39,000 employees is also

likely to be part of Donovan’s brief.



Communications to shareholders, industry analysts and the City remains

the responsibility of Jane Anscombe, Rank’s investor relations director

for the last three years. Both Anscombe and Donovan will report to

finance director Nigel Turnbull.



Donovan’s appointment is the latest move by Rank to improve its

relationship with the press and follows the arrival of Andrew Teare as

chief executive earlier this year. Formerly chief executive at English

China Clays, Teare favours a more co-operative relationship with the

press rather than the ‘no comment’ approach of his predecessor Michael

Gifford.



In April Lowe Bell Financial replaced Shandwick Consultants as Rank’s

corporate and financial PR adviser with an expanded brief worth around

pounds 100,000 in annual fees.



Teare also plans to spin off Rank’s non-leisure interests and

restructure the remaining business into four divisions. This week it

bought the Tom Cobleigh pub and restaurant chain for pounds 95.6

million.



‘What we need at Rank is communications co-ordination because of the

increasing decentralisation,’ said one company insider. ‘Donovan’s

appointment is a reflection of what Andrew has said about improving

communications internally and externally.’



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