The Britt Allcroft Company plc announced that as part of its global expansion, the company has changed its name to Gullane Entertainment and hired new key staff members. The companys former managing director, William Harris, has been appointed CEO and commercial director and group entertainment president, Charles Falzon, will serve as president. The move is an opportunity for founder Britt Allcroft to hand over the operations of the company to focus on more creative endeavors. Through her Los Angeles-based Britt Allcroft Productions, Allcroft will further develop the THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE, MUMFIE and SHINING TIME STATION franchises, as well as developing and producing new family entertainment projects that will be completed under the new Gullane title. As part of the redesigned company she has also decided to step down from the Board. The first move for Gullane will be the investment of US$40 million in the development of a new THOMAS series, three television movies, one lifestyle series and three children's series. To build the company in the U.S., Gullane has appointed Meredith Metz as VP of programme packaging & development, in which she will develop new programming for the U.S. marketplace and cultivate relationships with co-production partners in the U.S. and Europe. Metz recently served as VP, development at Fireworks Entertainment. Moreover, Peter Urie was made VP group head of production, Europe, in which he will help expand the firms portfolio of children's brands by increasing in house development and expand acquisitions of properties and companies. To enlarge its online business, Gullane launched planetgullane.com on September 7, 2000. Falzon said, "Gullane Entertainment now combines its heritage and experience with an expanded team of creative talent, as well as a strong worldwide network. We are ideally positioned to be leaders in the family entertainment market." Allcroft commented, "With the increasing influence of this business in global entertainment, it makes commercial sense for it to operate under one group banner. This provides a single identity in every market in which it operates. I remain a significant shareholder of Gullane Entertainment and I am excited about what the future holds for both Gullane and Britt Allcroft Productions." Gullane Entertainment's properties include THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE, ART ATTACK and SOOTY, the world's longest running TV series. Currently Gullane Entertainment trades on the London Stock Exchange as The Britt Allcroft Company. Allcroft created THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE AND FRIENDS for British Television in 1984 and has grown the company into a billion-dollar worldwide franchise.