Leisure analysts were yesterday surprised by the announcement that Andrew Teare, head of English China Clays, would succeed Michael Gifford as chief executive of Rank Organisation, the UK's largest leisure group.
"People were expecting a block-busting name. Andrew Teare comes, shall we say, from a different stable," one analyst said.
Mr Teare will assume control at Rank in the spring, soon after Mr Gifford's 60th birthday. It is understood he will be on a similar remuneration package to Mr Gifford, who earned a basic pounds 330,000 last year.
Many analysts had believed that either an internal candidate would win through, or that Rank would choose an established name from the industry. Recent speculation about the likely successor had strongly featured the name of John Conlan of First Leisure.
Mr Gifford said yesterday, however, that people had misunderstood the selection criteria.
"We need an expert in the film industry, someone with a thorough understanding of theme parks, an understanding of the mass entertainments business, and someone with knowledge of office equipment.
"Where do I find this paragon of experience? You don't - you find someone else. There is no point in appointing an expert in bingo, because we already have the expert. It is much easier to understand what the businesses are about, rather than have someone with a narrow view."
Mr Teare, 53, is credited with thoroughly reshaping ECC since he became chief executive of the kaolin and paper chemicals group five years ago. He was previously managing director of Rugby Group for six years until 1990, having spent spells at Turner & Newall and Cement Roadstone.
Investors in ECC took a dim view of his departure, and the company's shares yesterday fell 16p to 334p while Rank's rose 7p to 427p.
Analysts said Mr Gifford's act would be a tough one to follow, given his own thorough reshaping of Rank since he assumed the chief executive's chair in 1983.