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Thursday, 15 November, 2001, 08:59 GMT
Tough times at Hard Rock
Hard rock cafe logo and guitars
Business has nose-dived at global tourist haunt The Hard Rock Cafe, while its provincial UK rival, Chicago Rock Cafe, is booming.

Hard Rock's parent Rank has warned of a 15% fall in full-year profits at the chain, which has been badly affected by the 11 September terror attacks in the United States.

By contrast, Luminar, parent company of the Chicago Rock Cafe chain, said its 280 theme bars and nightclubs, mostly located in provincial towns and cities, have been unaffected by 11 September.

It reported a sharp-rise in first half profits and a "robust" start to the second half of the year with Christmas party bookings already starting to take off.

Gaming laws

Rank has been under pressure to sell the Hard Rock chain, which is seen as being past its peak, despite attempts to extend the brand into hotels and casinos.

Most analysts believe Rank's fortunes will only be turned around by new acquisitions, particularly in the gaming area, where it already owns Grosvenor casinos and Mecca bingo halls.

The company, which has sold off its Butlins holiday camps and Pinewood film studios, is expected to be the major beneficiary of the recent review of the UK gaming laws, which is expected to lead to an explosion in casinos.

Rank shares were up more than 3% in afternoon trading, despite the Hard Rock warning, which had been expected.

Late-night drinking

Luminar shares were also up 4p after it reported pre-tax half year profits of 29.5m on a more than doubled turnover of 166.4m.

The company, which was floated in 1996 with a value of less than 30m, has ridden the boom in late-night drinking venues, which received a further shot in the arm when the government failed to deliver on its election promise to relax licensing laws.

The company's venues rely on late licenses to give them the edge over pubs and bars which still close at 11pm.

Luminar chief executive Steve Thomas said the company was bracing itself for a bumper Christmas party season, with bookings already up on last year.

"The board remains confident about the prospects of the group and will continue to pursue the strategy of a strong organic growth opening programme in quality sites and opportunistic going-concern acquisitions," the company said in a statement.

See also:

30 Oct 01 | Business
Whitbread's Rouge awakening
30 Oct 01 | Business
Whitbread lines up Cafe Rouge sale
02 Mar 01 | Business
Profits fall at slimmed-down Rank
17 Jul 01 | Business
Blackpool: The new Las Vegas?
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