Rank to create 3,000 jobs as it buys back pounds 350m in shares

Rank is to create 3,000 jobs this year as it expands its Butlin's to Hard Rock leisure and entertainment businesses. Plans include 10 new Mecca bingo clubs, 20 large Tom Cobleigh pubs, 5 multiplex cinemas and a holiday village in Cumbria.

News of the job creation plans accompanied full-year figures showing a slump in profits as new chief executive Andrew Teare's deck-clearing write-offs took effect. Rank's shares jumped 19.5p to 434.5p, however, as the market focused on the promise of a share buyback and the prospect of Rank finally securing a sale of its remaining 20 per cent stake in Rank Xerox.

Mr Teare said yesterday Rank would be seeking approval from its shareholders to buy back up to 10 per cent of its shares at a cost of around pounds 350m at the current share price. A sale of the Rank Xerox stake would easily cover a repurchase, with analysts believing Xerox, the most likely buyer, might pay pounds 1bn to take complete control of the office equipment business.

Rank's new jobs are to be created around the country with 880 slated for a new Oasis Forest Holiday Village in Cumbria. A further 750 jobs are pencilled in for 10 Mecca bingo clubs, to add to the division's existing 133. Southampton is to get a new pounds 25m multi-leisure centre which will create jobs for 300.

Mr Teare, who has been in the job for just under a year after moving from English China Clays, is under mounting pressure to return Rank to a growth tack. Since his appointment, the leisure group's shares have fallen from a high of 545p to as low as 403.5p.

He said yesterday: "During 1996, we undertook a reappraisal of all aspects of our business and a period of change and restructuring has followed. The steps we have taken are making the company more focused, entrepreneurial and forward looking."

Mr Teare also confirmed that Rank is seeking buyers for its film distribution business, which has a catalogue of films including the Carry On series and newer classics such as Strictly Ballroom. He poured cold water, however, on expectations that the division, which also owns the famous symbol of a man striking a gong, might raise between pounds 100m and pounds 150m, with analysts now suggesting a price tag of about pounds 70m.

During the year the rationalisation of Rank's previously disparate interests included the sale of Precision Industries, an engineering business, for pounds 66m, holiday group Shearings for pounds 75m and Kingston Plantation for pounds 30m. Acquisitions, totalling pounds 460m, compared with pounds 60m in 1995 and included the American Hard Rock Cafes and Tom Cobleigh, the pub chain.

Excluding exceptional items, operating profits rose 13 per cent to pounds 290m during 1996, in line with expectations, struck from a 9 per cent rise in turnover to pounds 2.08bn.

Underlying earnings per share slipped from 24.3p to 24.1p, allowing an 8 per cent rise in the dividend to 17p.

Reported profits were hit by a number of one-off items, including a pounds 232m exceptional charge to cover permanent diminution in property values and pounds 35m of restructuring charges. That compared with a pounds 236m one-off profit in 1995 on the sale of part of the Rank Xerox stake and resulted in a fall in pre-tax profits from pounds 515m to pounds 65m.

Three of Rank's four core divisions reported double-digit profit growth, with film and entertainment services the star performer. The film arm was boosted by a high number of Hollywood releases. At home, Pinewood studios reported record profits.

Hard Rock, which was reunited with its American sister company during the year, grew through acquisitions but saw sales at existing restaurants fall 4 per cent. This was mainly thanks to poor performances in Paris, which was hit by terrorism and a wave of BSE-inspired anglophobia, and in Orlando and Nashville.

The Hard Rock brand is being boosted by the launch of a record label and a new American cable television series, Hard Rock Live, which starts next month with $30m sponsorship from the car maker Pontiac.

In leisure, Odeon cinemas enjoyed a record year thanks to films such as Independence Day and Toy Story. Bingo shrugged off the woes afflicting most of the industry since the introduction of the National Lottery, with admissions 10 per cent higher in the second half. Casinos enjoyed higher admissions and a better win ratio.

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam