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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Neil Pavier: Management Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...

Laura Norton: Project Accountant

£50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine