Terrorists and high rollers put £10m dent in Rank

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The Independent Online

Rank, the leisure group, took a £10m hit to profits as a result of the 11 September attacks and a further dent to earnings from large winnings by "high-rollers" at its flagship casinos.

Reporting 2001 results, the company said that following the US terrorist outrage, there was a steep decline in sales at its Hard Rock themed café outlets, especially those branches in major tourist cities. Prior to 11 September, revenues were down 3 per cent but this ballooned to a 17 per cent drop for the rest of the year.

Mike Smith, Rank's chief executive, said: "At Hard Rock, there's no question our trend was up until the end of August then it suddenly died on 11 September. But it's coming back."

On gaming, divisional operating profit was up 16 per cent. The company's Mecca Bingo halls saw turnover growth and a 23 per cent improvement in profits. Its five London casinos experienced contrasting fortunes last year. At the upper-end sites, the Clermont and the Park Tower, profit was down £3.7m as some of the casinos' top customers had a good run of winnings.

Trading in the other London casinos and in the provincial venues was "strong". The Deluxe film processing division saw operating profit up 11 per cent.

Rank has been through a major restructuring since Mr Smith took the helm in 1999, when debt stood at £1.5bn. Debt last year fell to £248m, from £320m in 2000, leaving the group's borrowing at levels viewed as comfortable. Group pre-tax profit edged up to £188.1m, from £186.0m.

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