Planet Hollywood poaches UCI man

Themed restaurant chain Planet Hollywood has poached United Cinemas International (UCI) marketing director Paul Biggins to boost its European marketing team.

Biggins becomes vice-president of marketing Europe. His role will be to manage the brand as it launches restaurants, to oversee expansion into different themed outlets and to coordinate the company’s international and local marketing teams. He is expected to take up the post in October.

Biggins reports to Guy Laurence, executive vice-president marketing Europe. Laurence says: “Since this company started in 1991 we have built the business on the back of favourable publicity. Now we require strategic marketing opp-ortunities and we need seasoned professionals such as Biggins to build up the business.”

Laurence and Biggins worked together for 18 months at UCI. Laurence was marketing director and recruited Biggins from Manchester advertising agency Barrington Johnson Lorians & Partners into the UCI marketing department.

Planet Hollywood has faced stiff competition in the themed restaurant market as other players such as The Sports Café, The Rainforest Café and The Fashion Café have entered the market.

The restaurant company revealed an unexpected second-quarter loss this week of $1.4m (850,000), compared with a $16.3m (102,000) net profit for the same period last year. Laurence describes trade in the restaurants over the past year as “static”.

The company still has plans for expansion, although these have been scaled down. It had planned to open eight Planet Hollywood restaurants in Europe by last Christmas, but this has now been cut to six over the next 18 months.

Planet Hollywood is also testing a music restaurant in Leicester Square, called Sound Republic, and is looking at London sites for a sports restaurant called the All Star Café.

UCI is understood to be seeking a replacement for Biggins.

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