ORLANDO-Despite a sagging international economy, locally based Hard Rock Café International posted first-half operating profit of $34.1 million, up 10% from $31.2 million in the same 2000 period.

Total six-month revenue of $185 million was up $4.3 million from $180.7 million in the same 2000 period. However, same-store sales at company-owned restaurant locations (open at least a year) were down 3.5%.

In a prepared statement, the company attributed the drop in restaurant sales to the economy, higher gasoline prices in tourist destinations and disruptions at some locations from ongoing renovations. European restaurant locations, open at least a year, logged revenue increases of 3.8%.

Franchise and other income totaled $12.4 million including franchise territory sales of $4.7 million. Hard Rock took a one-off restructuring charge of $2.5 million in the first half.

New company-owned restaurants are planned for later this year and in 2002 in Munich, Germany; Birmingham, England; Pittsburgh, Austin and Minneapolis.

Renovations totaled $13.4 million at 13 cafes in the first six months. Completions were made at locations in New York, London, Las Vegas, Paris and Washington, D.C.

“The recent (sales) results have been encouraging within these cafes since their relaunch,” Pete Beaudrault, Hard Rock’s president/CEO, says in the statement. Renovations at other locations will continue over the next 18 months.

On the same-store sales decline, Beaurault remains optimistic, “specifically our increased operating profit in what has proven to be a very difficult first six months of the year for virtually all business segments,” the Hard Rock executive says.

Revenue and bookings at the 650-room, $13 million Hard Rock Hotel that opened in January at Orlando Universal are strong but the company did not provide performance figures in its report which was taken from the first-half overall analysis by its parent, London-based Rank Group.

A new hotel, previously announced in Pattaya, Thailand, is scheduled to open in November. A Chicago hotel is slated to open in 2003.

On the casino development side, a Hard Rock location will open in Manchester, England in early 2002; and two hotel/casino projects with the Seminole tribe in Florida are tentatively scheduled to open in 2003.

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