The Conran empire has taken a massive hit from its American restaurant and store business.

It will report that profits fell from £4m to £2.4m for the year ending March 2002 on sales down 4% to £113m. Conran said he had no plans to shut any of the restaurants.

He is likely to make some changes to the image of poor-performing outlets as well as to the cuisine.

The London restaurant business saw profits rise £200,000 to £4.2m.

The Sunday Times says the past 12 months have been some of the worst in recent history for Britain's restaurant chains. Many in the City are asking whether there is a long-term future in the stock market for restaurant chains, which are affected by every change in consumer habits.

It says it will be some time before we can tell whether the sector is suffering from a bout of indigestion or a long-term illness.
The Sunday Times 20/10/02 page 1 (Business), page 6 (Business)
The Business 20/10/02 page 4 (Best of the rest)