Rank Group has this morning announced adjusted pre-tax profits down from £41.9m to £40.7m for the six months to 30 June, 2006. There was no news on Hard Rock Café. The company is currently undertaking a strategic review of the division and had been expected to announce its sale with this morning’s update. Profits at the division, which comprises 121 Hard Rock cafes, four hotels and two casino-hotels, were ahead 15.2% to £18.9m on revenues up 10.2% to £133.7m. Of its 121 restaurants 68 are company operated, with the remaining 53 franchised. First-half revenues from company-operated cafes grew 8.8% while operating profit increased by 8.7% to £13.8m. The company said menu changes and lower prices drove food and beverage sales. Rank also said that its New York Hard Rock Café, which last year switched location to Times Square, was a major contributor to first half revenue growth. The company will carry out a similar relocation in Boston, from Copley Square to Faneuil Square, which is one of Boston’s most popular tourist destinations. There were no new openings during the period but two underperforming cafes were closed, in Bristol, England, and Austin, Texas. Royalties and fees from franchise cafes increased 53.6% to £4.3m and operating profit rose 63.6% to £3.6m. Overall, group revenues were up 7.2% to £426.1m. Group operating profit, after exceptional items, was £45.9m, down from £61.6m last year, partly attributed to one-off restructuring costs in the group’s gaming division. Net debt was reduced from £739.4m to £555.2m, reflecting the proceeds from the sale of the Deluxe Film business. Rank’s bingo clubs in Scotland experienced a 14% drop in revenue in the weeks following the introduction of the smoking ban. During the 13-week period from 27 March to 26 June 2006, admissions in these clubs fell by 6% and spend per head was down 9%. Operating profit in Bingo declined 16.7% to £36m overall. On marginally lower revenue. In Casinos operating profits grew 13.9% to £20.5m, driven by strong admissions revenue. Rank’s interactive business, Blue Square, generated profits of £3.1m, up from £0.3m last time. Ian Burke, chief executive, said: “Over the course of recent months my senior management team and I have undertaken a thorough review of the group. “We have identified five strategic priorities for Rank: to re-energise our UK gaming business: to establish an appropriate cost structure for the group; to maintain the growth and assess the strategic fit of Hard Rock; to exit Deluxe Media Services; and to complete the restructuring of the group’s balance sheet.” The company has so far identified £16m of annual operational cost savings across its gaming, bingo and casino businesses.