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Odeon topper ankles

Segal exit surprises exhib biz

LONDON — Richard Segal is ankling as chief exec of Odeon Cinemas, the U.K.’s largest exhibition chain.

His surprise exit comes just four months after Odeon was sold to a consortium including Entertainment Film Distributors, WestLB, Robert Tchenguiz and the Dellal family.

“Odeon is a great business with an exciting future and an estate of cinemas which is unrecognizable from that which existed only a few years ago,” Segal commented. “The time is now right, however, for me personally to move on and seek new challenges.”

Odeon has brought in Ian Pluthero, most recently chief exec of Carlisle Holdings, to take on the temporary responsibiilty of chief exec until a permanent replacement can be found.

“Odeon has experienced considerable growth over recent years and we are determined to maintain and build on this,” commented Trevor Green of Entertainment.

Previously, the new owners said the circuit would continue to be run by Segal.

“We expect the company to go from strength to strength under Richard Segal’s leadership,” said WestLB’s Robin Saunders at the time of the acquisition.

Sources close to the Odeon shareholders suggested that Segal’s decision to depart reflected the fact that the circuit is moving into a different phase of its development.

Segal oversaw a massive refurbishment and expansion of the circuit, but the trend is now towards consolidation, through the possible acquisition of other circuits, and towards vertical integration, through a closer relationship with Entertainment’s distribution operations.

Odeon has 23% of the U.K. box office, operating 608 screens at 97 sites including the country’s flagship theater the Odeon Leicester Square.

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