Rupert Gavin, the formerhead of the BBC's commercial arm BBC Worldwide, has been appointed chiefexecutive of Odeon Cinemas and UCI Cinemas.

The appointment is a majorstep in combining the two UK cinema chains after they were taken over byprivate equity firm Terra Firma. Together, the circuits are the largest cinemaoperator in the UK, amounting to 95 Odeon sites and 32 UCI cinemas.

Speculation about who willhead up the combined circuit had included the return of former Odeon MD RichardSegal and Philip Knatchbull, a producer and founder shareholder of ShowcaseCinemas in London.

Gavin will take up hisposition in mid June. "As the largest cinema group in Europe, we have areal opportunity to seize the latest technological advances in cinema so as tobe able to serve our customers to the highest possible standards," Gavinsaid.