Rank needs a big idea

Andrew Teare looked more relaxed yesterday than at any time since he took on the Herculean challenge of sorting out Britain's largest, least focused and dullest leisure company. His honeymoon period at Rank looked dangerously like ending in divorce unless he could reverse the share price slide that started more or less on the day he moved into the hot seat. Yesterday, for the first time, the market began to believe he was up to the job.

During the reign of Mr Teare's predecessor, Michael Gifford, Rank adopted the Millwall FC approach to investor relations - "no one likes us and we don't care" - so yesterday's attempt to convince the City it was setting itself demanding but achievable return on capital targets was a positive first step towards dispelling worries, underscored by last year's expensive Tom Cobleigh acquisition, that Rank's best talent was for squandering shareholders' funds.

The PR offensive has a long way to go yet, however. Analysts still find Rank's level of disclosure unacceptably low. It suggests problems where they may not exist. When the share price has fallen a quarter in a year while the rest of the market has risen 16 per cent, these doubts need to be addressed head-on, not sidestepped.

Presentation aside, the substance of Rank's problems remains intractable. It owns a rag-bag of tired brands like Butlin's that will require heavy capital investment to bring up to date, some mature concepts like Hard Rock, which is struggling even to maintain like-for-like sales let alone grow them, and hard-pressed businesses like Mecca bingo, which is outperforming its peers but still earning less than it did before the National Lottery spoiled the party two years ago.

Getting shot of its pounds 1bn Rank Xerox stake will underpin a balance sheet that is starting to look stretched now a pounds 300m disposal programme is largely complete, but what now? For a company operating in strong growth markets, an inability to find anything sizeable to invest in is some indictment. Mr Teare has come through a sticky first year as well as he could have expected in a business he knew next to nothing about. What he, and Rank, needs more than anything now is a big idea.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Mortgage Advisor - OTE £95,000

£40000 - £95000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

competitive: SThree: Are you passionate about sales?Do you have a keen interes...

Recruitment Genius: Loan Adviser - OTE £30,000

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Assistant / Buyer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high