MGM md Mike Sommers to go in wake of Virgin takeover shake-up

MGM Cinemas managing director Mike Sommers is one of the first casualties of the chain’s July takeover by Virgin, it was revealed this week.

Sommers will work a further two months as a consultant and then leave to set up his own marketing operation.

Virgin bought MGM Cinemas in partnership with other investors for 195m, and holds 60 per cent of the shares. It has struck a deal with WH Smith whereby Virgin will merge the managements of the cinema chain and Virgin Retail, which runs Virgin Megastore and Our Price. Virgin owns a minority stake in WH Smith-controlled Virgin Retail. The new chain will be named Virgin Cinemas and will move its head office to Kew, Surrey.

Virgin Retail systems director Margaret Taylor takes over day-to-day running of the cinema business as senior director. She will report to Virgin Cinemas chairman Simon Burke, who also holds a position on WH Smith’s board. He will be part-time chairman of Virgin Cinemas.

It is understood MGM head of marketing Ian Gray keeps his job.

Between 30 and 35 larger MGM Cinemas are to be branded under the Virgin name by the end of 1996. The remaining 80 will be given another name. The company is also considering launching a loyalty card.

Sommers joined MGM two years ago from TSB, where he was marketing and premises director.

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