Rank Group's Hard Rock division enjoyed healthy growth last year as sales at its cafés increased and the brand extended into the hotel sector.
A first-time contribution from the Hard Rock hotel in Chicago helped lift pre-tax profits 20% year-on-year to £27.8m, compared with £23.1m in 2003.
Although overall profitability improved at the café chain, Rank said merchandise sales remained difficult. Turnover for the Hard Rock division fell 8.6% to £232m (£234m in 2003).
Rank plans to open new Hard Rock Cafés in Belo Horizonte (Brazil), Canary Islands, Caracas and Santo Domingo this year, as well as relocating its New York restaurant to Times Square.
The group's joint venture with Spanish company Sol Meliá, will see hotel openings in New York and Madrid, and a $235m (£123m) licensed Hard Rock/casino development in Biloxi, Mississippi, planned to open later this year.
by Chris Druce
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