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Granada plc

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Ceased operations

London, United Kingdom

Number of employees

ITV plc, Moto Hospitality

Conglomerate (primarily Media)

Merged with Carlton Communications

Key people
Sidney Bernstein (Founder) Charles Allen (Chief Executive)

Granada Breeze Granada Plus Granada Men And Motors Granada Talk TV

ITV Granada ITV Studios Granada Ventures Granada TV Rental Granada Theatres Granada Motorway Services Telerent Granada Television London Weekend Television Yorkshire Television Tyne Tees Television Meridian Broadcasting Anglia Television HTV(sold to Carlton for issues) Border Television

Sidney Bernstein, Baron Bernstein

Granada plc (previously called Granada Ltd, Granada Group plc, and Granada Media plc) was a British conglomerate best known as the former parent of the Manchester-based Granada Television.


The company merged with Carlton Communications in 2004 to become ITV plc. It was once a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.

Media business

Granada has its origins in Sidney Bernstein's Granada Theatres Ltd, a cinema company founded in Dover in 1930. The company was incorporated as Granada Ltd in 1934, with Granada Theatres Ltd turned into a subsidiary. Granada has been listed on the London Stock Exchange in one form or another since 1935. It was awarded the North of England ITV franchise in 1954. For more details on the history of that part of Granada's business, see ITV Granada. Granada also established a chain of television rental shops from 1959 onwards.

During the 1980s, Granada became involved in the British Satellite Broadcasting satellite television company. This went on air in March 1990, but merged with Sky Television plc in November 1990, to form British Sky Broadcasting, in which Granada had a minority shareholding for some time. In 1991, Granada Theatres Ltd was sold to Bass. In 1994 Granada acquired London Weekend Television. In 1997 it acquired Yorkshire-Tyne Tees Television plc, forming Granada Media Group plc.

Granada also bid together with Carlton Communications and British Sky Broadcasting for the UK Digital terrestrial television licence. They won the licence, though BSkyB was excluded from the company, ONdigital for competition grounds. It went on air in 1998.

In 2000, Granada purchased United News & Media's television interests, which were Meridian Broadcasting and Anglia Television; Granada was forced to sell the HTV broadcasting business (to Carlton) for competition reasons, though it held onto HTV's network production business. It also acquired Border Television in 2001, from Capital Radio plc.

Granada also became involved in digital television but in 2002 ITV Digital, the renamed ONdigital, collapsed.

Red Arrow (later Granada) TV Rental

Until the late 1990s there was a widespread high street chain called Granada TV Rental in the UK, Canada, and in the US. The UK headquarters were based at Ampthill Road, Bedford, England. This company started life as Red Arrow TV rental, using a red version of Granada's north-pointing arrow as its logo. This was a home entertainment equipment rental chain similar in structure to Radio Rentals and Rediffusion. The mainstay of the business from the late 1950s, and through the 1960s and 70s was television set rental. During this period television receivers were both expensive to purchase and maintain.

In 1978 the company expanded its operations into the VHS system domestic VCR, (Video Cassette Recorder) rental market. This was also a high cost new technology item in home entertainment, (a JVC model HR3300 VHS VCR cost £680 in 1978). In the early 1980s the rental of Satellite T.V. reception equipment was another opportunity for the company to supplement its declining income.

As electronic product prices fell, and their reliability improved, consumer trend changed from renting to buying electrical goods. This drift away from rental eventually resulted in the decline of this chain which (after a 'merger' with rivals Direct Vision Rentals - which they proceeded to close down having transferred all business to the Granada books) re-branded as boxclever leading to a merger with Radio Rentals in 2000. This successor company had since withdrawn from the high street following heavy losses and now only has an internet presence.

There was also an attempt to exploit the market for companies who preferred to lease all their office furniture and equipment, rather than buy them. This offshoot was branded Black Arrow and used a black version of the Red Arrow logo. This company was disposed of and has no connection with any other venture of a similar name.

Catering business

Aside from media, Granada's other main strength was in the catering business. It opened its first motorway service area in 1964, and established a chain of service areas across the British motorway network. Granada was the first British service station operator to move away from fancy dining and instead offer a basic but quicker service. Soon, all the other operators took on this idea. Granada's hospitality arm was at its strongest in the 1990s under Gerry Robinson's chairmanship of the group. At one time the company owned and operated 75% of the motorway service areas. It expanded into other areas of catering, including most notably the acquisition in 1996 of Forte Group. This included rival operator Welcome Break (later sold due to regulations), roadside chains Little Chef and Happy Eater and Forte's hotels (including Travelodge and Le Meridien). During this time Granada added many high street brands to their services to make more consumers stop (this later became common at service stations).

In July 2000 Granada merged with Compass Group plc to form Granada Compass plc. Granada Media Group became a subsidiary as Granada Media plc with Granada Compass plc retaining 80% of the shares. The merger did not last long, and in February 2001 Compass and Granada once again went their separate ways, Compass taking all of Granada's food and hospitality business with it. The de-merged Granada became Granada Ltd. Granada's service stations were rebranded under Moto.

Merger with Carlton

In 2002 speculation began to centre on when, not if, Carlton and Granada would merge. In 2003 a merger was agreed between the two companies, with Granada shareholders owning two-thirds of the new company. That the new company was in effect a takeover by Granada of Carlton was admitted in the first annual report of the new company, ITV plc, which treated the company as effectively a continuation of Granada plc (with the Carlton merger regarded as an acquisition) for accounting purposes.

The Granada name remains as the name of the North West ITV franchise, and is used to brand productions of ITV plc companies on channels other than ITV branded channels in the United Kingdom, where ITV Studios is used instead. For details on the company's history after 2 February 2004, see ITV plc.


At the time of the merger with Carlton Communications, Granada was mainly involved in the television business. It owned seven ITV companies – Granada Television, London Weekend Television, Yorkshire Television, Tyne Tees Television, Meridian Broadcasting, Anglia Television and Border Television. It also owned the ITV Digital Channels Ltd pay-TV business, which at the time offered two channels, Men and Motors and Granada Plus. ITV plc has since taken full control of GSB and closed down archive channel Plus in favour of ITV3. Granada also owned 50% shares in ITV2 and the ITV News Channel, and a 20% share of Independent Television News. It also owned 45% of TV3.

Charles Allen was chief executive of Granada until 2 February 2004, when he became chief executive of the newly created ITV plc, a post he retained until 1 October 2006.


Granada plc Wikipedia

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