Byline: James Fallon

LONDON — Pentland Group PLC, which owns Ellesse and the rights to the Speedo brand worldwide, said Wednesday that Andy Rubin will become its chief executive, effective Jan. 1, 1998.
He will succeed his father, Stephen Rubin, who remains executive chairman.
Andy Rubin currently is executive director of group development, responsible for furthering the company’s focus on athletic brands. He joined the Pentland board in 1995 as marketing director.
In addition to Ellesse in the U.S. and Europe and the rights to Speedo, Pentland owns such brands as Pony, Berghaus and the worldwide rights to Lacoste footwear.
A Pentland spokesman said no nepotism was involved in the appointment, which was backed by Pentland’s major institutional investors as well as British financial analysts. He said Andy Rubin is the correct person for the job, given his involvement in the group’s sporting goods activities. In addition, the Rubin family owns 55 percent of Pentland.
The management change is not a prelude to Stephen Rubin retiring in the near future, the spokesman also stressed. The change, he said, came because of Pentland’s decision to focus on sporting goods as well as the chairman’s recognition that “in the kind of business they are in, it made sense to have a ceo closer to that kind of market.”
Pentland also revealed that Peter McGuigan, executive director responsible for its sporting goods activities, would leave the company on Sept. 30 to form his own business. No details were given, and McGuigan could not be reached.
McGuigan will not be replaced, the spokesman said.
The company revealed the restructuring in reporting a 69.9 percent drop in after-tax profits to $3.5 million (2.2 million pounds) on a 1.4 percent rise in sales of continuing operations to $568.5 million (357.2 million pounds) in the first half ended June 30. This compares with after-tax profits of 7.3 million pounds on sales of 352.4 million pounds in the corresponding period a year earlier.
The results were dragged down by a $11.8 million (7.4 million pound) exceptional charge relating to the disposal of the company’s greeting card business.
Profits before tax and exceptional items rose 26.1 percent to $23.1 million (14.5 million pounds) from 11.5 million pounds.The growth was driven by a strong performance at Speedo and the company’s other sporting goods brands.
Operating profits in Pentland’s footwear, clothing and sports division rose 29.2 percent to $18.3 million (11.5 million pounds) from 8.9 million pounds. Sales rose 15.3 percent to $413.6 million (259.9 million pounds) from 225.4 million pounds.