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Themed bars suffer setback

The current trend for themed bars and restaurants took a step backwards yesterday when one restaurant chain announced a sharp dip in profits while a themed pub group collapsed into administration with debts of pounds 4m.

My Kinda Town, which operates the Chicago Rib Shack and Henry J Bean outlets, reported lower profits due to the closure of part of its Paris branch of Henry J Beans and the impact of the Paris strikes last year.

Separately, administrators were called in at Saxon Inns, which operates a chain of 26 themed bars within the M25, after the company ran into cash problems. Several rival pub groups have expressed interest in the chain which includes the Minogues bar in Islington, North London.

The downbeat announcements come just two days after plans for two huge new themed restaurants in London were unveiled and show that themed diners and watering holes are not necessarily a certain success.

Capital Radio has announced plans to open a radio restaurant in the basement of its new Leicester Square headquarters, which it moves to in the summer in the summer. It will be operated by My Kinda Town.

Greenhills, a themed restaurant operator, has signed an agreement with Turner Entertainment to open The Dream Factory, a massive eaterie based on movies such as Wizard of Oz and Casablanca. It is scheduled to open on London's Regent Street later this year.

My Kinda Town, which also operates the Salsa and Beach Blanket Babylon restaurants, saw profits in the six months to December fall from pounds 1.3m to pounds 1m. The fall was due to a pounds 337,000 charge for closing one floor of the Paris branch of Henry J Bean. Trading in France is improving but has yet to return to normal. The company said sales were up in the UK and that the second half had started well.

Canadian Pizza, which manufactures pizza bases and toppings announced a sharp fall in profits for the full year to December. Profits fell from pounds 2.33m to pounds 1.4m last year due to a poor first half.

Pricing pressure, particularly from the supermarkets, was a major factor. The company has also slashed its dividend and replaced its chairman.