LEISURE group Rank is to open a series of Hard Rock Hotels in the United States and Europe, it was announced yesterday.
The group has signed a joint venture with resort hotels group Sol Melia.
The Hard Rock brand, which has suffered from dwindling visitor numbers at its cafes, will be franchised to owners of four and five star hotels.
Sol will then manage the sites for a fixed fee, and it is hoped that after five years, the venture will cover about 3,000 rooms.
Hard Rock has pledged the management contract of a new 381-room Chicago hotel - due to open later this year - to the agreement, alongside contracts for over 1,300 rooms in the Caribbean and the US by June 2006.
Meanwhile, Sol will contribute management contracts for a minimum of three US and European hotels by June 2007.
Under a separate agreement, US private equity group Becker Ventures is providing backing of up to $1bn (£600m) for the developments.
Rank chief executive Mike Smith said, "We have always believed that hotels present a major opportunity to further capitalise on the strength of the Hard Rock brand.
"This joint venture is another step towards our objective of broadening our earnings base in Hard Rock through brand licensing.
"Combining the hotel expertise of Sol Melia, the power of the Hard Rock brand and the financial support from Becker, we now have a strong platform upon which to build an additional source of revenue."