Rank puts Hard Rock up for sale

Bingo and casino owner Rank today said it could sell its Hard Rock Café business and focus on the expanding UK gaming industry.

Bingo and casino owner Rank today said it could sell its Hard Rock Café business and focus on the expanding UK gaming industry.

The company launched a review “to assess whether or not Hard Rock should remain part of the Rank group” with analysts suggesting it could fetch more than £500m (€721m).

The sale of Hard Rock would mark the final break-up of a major leisure conglomerate which once included Odeon cinemas, Pinewood film studios and Butlins holiday camps.

And it would reduce Rank to just a gaming business with its Mecca bingo halls and Grosvenor Casinos as it looks to benefit from Government plans to relax gambling laws in the UK.

The break-up of Rank, which also owns the Blue Square internet betting company, comes after it posted losses in the last two fiscal years.

Rank said it would conduct a strategic review of Hard Rock “during the next few months” with the help of Merrill Lynch.

Hard Rock was founded in London in 1971 and now operates 121 outlets in more than 40 countries. It is particularly famous in the United States where it developed a cult following among rock fans for the music memorabilia on its walls.

Rank today said like-for-like sales were up 8% at its cafes in the first six months of the year.

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