(Adds details on O’Reilly, background)
April 30 (Reuters) - Britain’s Rank Group Plc on Monday named John O’Reilly as its chief executive, less than a month after it warned on profit and said that a weaker consumer outlook had hit the number of gamblers visiting its casinos and bingo halls.
O’Reilly’s appointment comes as Rank is trying to increase its online operations to offset the slowdown at its halls and casinos and attract younger players who use mobile apps, with websites such as meccabingo.com and grosvenorcasinos.com.
“John brings a wealth of gambling industry experience, particularly in digital,” chairman Ian Burke said.
O’Reilly was recently chairman of the digital design and development business Grand Parade Ltd and a non-executive director at William Hill. He will step down from the William Hill board to take up his position with Rank.
Previously, he led Ladbrokes’ digital operations and worked to relaunch the Coral brand online as Managing Director of Coral Interactive.
O’Reilly will assume the role from May 7 and will succeed Henry Birch.
Shares of the company plunged to a more-than-three-year low earlier this month after Rank forecast a lower full-year profit, blaming softer consumer confidence and two periods of cold weather.
Rank had forecast an operating profit of between 76 million pounds and 78 million pounds ($104.6 million-$107.4 million) for the year ending June 30, down from the 84.5 million pounds it reported last year.
The company then said it was cautious about the consumer outlook and did not expect conditions to improve, showing the industry was not immune to a softening in the wider economy in Britain.
The uncertainty around Britain’s planned exit from the European Union, coupled with rising inflation and stagnant real wage growth, has turned Britons more cautious on discretionary spending - a trend echoed by various retailers and documented by industry surveys. ($1 = 0.7266 pounds) (Reporting by Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)