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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
football

Arts and Entertainment
music
Life and Style
Designer Oscar de la Renta takes a bow after showing his Spring 2015 collection in September, his last show before his death
fashionThe passing of the legendary designer has left a vacancy: couturier to America’s royalty, says fashion editor Alexander Fury
Life and Style
tech

Company reveals $542m investment in start-up building 'a rocket ship for the mind'

News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
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

Helpdesk Analyst

£23000 per annum + pension and 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ...

Senior Helpdesk Analyst / Service Desk Co-ordinator

£27000 per annum + pension, 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ind...

Senior Pensions Administrator

£23000 - £26000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Administrator

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Admini...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are