Rank has decided to revamp its Hard Rock Cafes’ merchandise lines because of a sharp fall in sales. The chain of hamburger bars, which likes to sell associated merchandise such as T-shirts and baseball caps, failed miserably to shift one particular line – Hard Rock nightdresses. Merchandise sales fell 11.2% last year, which resulted in an overall decline of 3.1% across the chain despite a rise in comparable food and drink sales of 2.4%. Merchandise fell another 8.9% in the first eight weeks of the current year. The company blamed the downturn on a shortage of tourists in Paris, Rome, London, New York and Orlando but also because some of the lines needed changing. Rank said there was no point in selling Hard Rock because it accounted for little more than 10% of total earnings. Rank reported pre-tax profits before exceptionals down from £200.3m to £187.3m on turnover, excluding acquisitions, steady at £1.57bn. Total turnover rose 28% to £1.93bn. Hard Rock’s profits fell from £27.6m to £23.1m. Mike Smith, chief executive, said the future of the Hard Rock Brand was all about hotels and casinos rather than cafes. Rank’s shares fell 1p at 314.25p on Friday. The Times 28/02/04 page 57 (City Diary), page 60, page 63 (Need to know, Results in Brief), page 64 The Daily Telegraph 28/02/04 page 31 Financial Times (Money & Business) 28/02/04 page 2