The Rank Group has appointed Phil Urban, the former managing director of Whitbread’s pub and restaurants division, to the role of managing director of its casinos business. Urban will head up Rank’s Grosvenor Casinos operations replacing Peter McCann, who has left the company after 28 years. Prior to joining Whitbread, Urban worked for the Spirit Group, Punch’s managed division, as business managing director of restaurants and accommodation. During his career he has also served as managing director of Scottish & Newcastle’s restaurants and accommodation division. Ian Burke, chief executive of Rank said: “I am delighted that Phil has chosen to join us as managing director of our casinos business at this time of change and opportunity in the gaming industry. “Our ambition is to create a truly modern gaming-based leisure business. Phil's breadth of experience in leisure, harnessed to Rank's deep knowledge of the British casino market, will help us to achieve this ambition.” The appointment follows Ranks acknowledgment earlier this month that 2008 is likely to be a “challenging year for the gaming sector”. The group saw like-for-like revenue fall by 8% for the first 17 weeks of the year, impacted by changes to UK gaming regulations and the smoking ban.