UK cinema advertising group passes between Irish investors

Mike Ormonde is believed to have taken control of Pearl & Dean

Entertainment industry investor Mike Ormonde is understood to have taken control of UK cinema advertising group Pearl & Dean, which was previously bought out by Dermot Hanrahan's Wide Eye Media in 2015.

Mr Hanrahan, who has previously co-invested with Mr Ormonde in Irish radio stations such as Radio Nova, has stayed on as chairman of Pearl & Dean, but is no longer a shareholder.

Meanwhile, accounts filed recently for Willowbrook Investments, the UK company that Mr Hanrahan used in 2015 to buy Pearl & Dean from Irish cinema magnate Tom Anderson, reveal that he paid just over £5.1 million for the business.

Mr Anderson sold the business to Mr Hanrahan having bought it for just £1 from STV Media five years previously.


Willowbrook remains the owner of Pearl & Dean, which was founded more than 60 years ago and is one of the largest players in the UK cinema advertising sector. It sells ads at several major British cinema multiplex groups.

Closely linked

It is understood that Mr Hanrahan's Irish-focused Wide Eye cinema advertising group, which previously operated in Ireland as Carlton Screen Advertising, and Mr Ormonde's Pearl & Dean have become closely linked operationally.

The two separately constituted companies already share certain back office functions and it is believed they may come together under the one banner in future.

Willowbrook’s accounts reveal that a deferred £1.8 million portion of the purchase price to Mr Anderson is being paid down in £600,000 instalments. A note to the accounts reveals that the directors expect that the payment of the final tranche, due this year, is “highly probable”.


Accounts for Pearl & Dean, which employs about 35 staff in London, records revenues of more than £18 million annually. The latest filed figures cover the year to the end of 2016, but it is understood that revenues have remained constant since then.

The business has been profitable on an operational basis since it was bought by Wide Eye. In 2016, it made profits of about £400,000 and profitability is believed to have improved further since.

Mr Ormonde has previously invested in a number of Irish radio stations. He has also invested in the Dublin pub trade.

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is London Correspondent for The Irish Times