With over 25 years of experience in the betting and gaming industry, both in the UK and internationally, I am often referred to as an ‘industry veteran’ or ‘stalwart’. In truth I love the gambling sector, always have and always will, and it is a privilege and a pleasure to be involved in determining its future direction at the helm of one of the industry’s major businesses.
Having been a non-executive director of various companies since leaving Gala Coral in 2015, I was keen to return to an executive role at a gambling company, but only if the right opportunity came along. The role of CEO of Rank has always been one that I wanted if the chance arose. In recent years, as an outsider looking in, I have viewed the Rank business as being undervalued with a real opportunity for development and growth.
Since joining I have been made to feel very welcome and I have met a lot of committed and hardworking colleagues who are focused on making this business more successful.
Over the last four months I have visited many of our venues, our digital operations in Gibraltar, the Enracha business in Spain, the customer solutions hub in Sheffield, and spent a great deal of time with all our leadership teams.
Based on what I have seen and experienced, we need to be better across four key areas by 1) increasing our focus on the customer; 2) growing our digital business; 3) driving cost efficiencies; and 4) improving our organisational capabilities.
More recently I have identified the detail behind these four areas which will form our key priorities over the coming year.
Increasing our focus on the customer
Growing our digital business
Drive cost efficiencies
Rank’s strategy as defined by the five pillars is right for our business and I agree with the Group’s ambition. That said, with the backdrop of a disappointing performance in 2017/18, we must move quickly to realise the significant underlying potential which I have now seen first-hand since joining the Group in early May.
As highlighted earlier, we need to improve the organisational capabilities to deliver our strategy and we will do this through the establishment of a transformation programme. We have to become more efficient but we also need to grow revenue so the transformation programme will be a mix of cost savings and revenue generation initiatives.
It is a rigorous process involving multiple approvals for initiatives with overall review by the Rank executive team.
Ideas to grow revenues and/or reduce costs are identified, validated, planned, prioritised, executed and realised with tight management and measurement at every phase.
The start point is in determining the workstreams, responsibilities and initiatives and validating the P&L benefits and timetable for delivery. This programme of work has just begun and will run over the next three months.
The transformation programme will then follow a strict weekly cadence, enforced by a transformation office which will support the programme and make sure the initiatives stay on track. To help run the programme we have recruited a Chief Transformation Officer, Jim Marsh, from McKinsey & Company. Jim will join the business on 1 October 2018.
The programme will be a challenge to all of us at Rank and as yet we don’t know what the initiatives will be but our employees are best placed to determine what we should be doing to grow revenues or where we can save money. It may be in scheduling, multi-skilling, new products, procurement, central systems, digital customer acquisition, customer bonus controls, promotional effectiveness, improvements in customer due diligence processes, or estate management.
The programme will be centrally run to ensure it is co-ordinated, properly measured and it changes the way we operate going forwards by enhancing the performance culture of this business, creating opportunities for personal growth and enabling ambition to be rewarded.
The transformation programme has only just kicked off. All senior employees will be involved as it progresses and it will shape what we do and, just as importantly, what we don’t do over the year ahead.
Our aim is to deliver a responsible, growing and successful business which is responsive to changing consumer needs and therefore relevant to today’s customer. We want to be an employer of choice to attract and retain the very best talent to ensure we have the organisational capability to drive increased loyalty from our customers and to create enhanced value from our shareholders.
There is a lot to do over the coming months to get Rank fit for the future but this is exciting journey and one which the Rank team is now gearing up to deliver.
John O'Reilly, Chief Executive