Rank banks on Hard Rock

Rank Group Chief Executive Andrew Teare is looking to his Hard Rock Cafes to provide good news for investors after disappointing interim results last week sent the shares into a tailspin and raised doubts about the company's strategy.

In addition to a big share buyback and joint venture with British Land, Mr Teare announced that Singapore-based Hotel Properties will develop as many as 12 Hard Rock Cafe brand hotels and beach resorts in the next 12 years. Rank will reap licensing, site and royalty fees from the hotels, with the first - a $75m (pounds 48m), 450-room property in Bali - set to open next year.

Rank took full control of the Hard Rock Cafes last year, and with rivals like Planet Hollywood and the Rainforest Cafe expanding internationally, has big plans for the original theme restaurant chain.

"We're in the middle of a major repositioning of that business," said Mr Teare. The company will open one new Hard Rock a month between now and 2000, has spruced up its menus, uniforms and merchandise, and has a music-themed television show. It will release two compilation albums this month through its link with Rhino Records.

While Rank's focus on Hard Rock and other units such as Odeon cinemas and Mecca bingo clubs sounds promising, the company still has to prove it can achieve good returns on its investments.

Shares in Rank have fallen 26 per cent since last August, when Mr Teare first announced plans to shed peripheral businesses and invest heavily in leisure and entertainment.