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
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
‘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.’