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Like-for-like sales at Hard Rock cafés around the world improved during the first three-and-a-half months of 2003, owner Rank Group said today, adding that the company was also starting to reap the benefits of extending the brand name into hotels and casinos.

During the period to 17 April like-for-like sales at Hard Rock cafés were up by 3%. This was made up of a 6% increase in food and beverage sales and a 4% drop in merchandise sales.

Rank said: ‘The first of the two hotel and casino developments on Seminole Indian land has opened in Tampa [Florida] and has traded in line with expectations; the second is due to open in May 2004.’

The Hard Rock Hotel in Chicago had its official opening earlier this month and the company expects to announce further hotel deals over the coming months.Rank added: ‘As we approach the important summer season, we are more positive than we have been in recent years about the full prospects for the [Hard Rock] business.’

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