Hard Times a Worry for Hard Rock?

CEO Hamish Dodds weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," September 30, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: Well, U.S. incomes diving for the first time in almost two years, Americans forced to tap into savings to cover higher costs on everything from food to gas.

Those hard times a worry for a company like Hard Rock? Well, the company celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Hard Rock International CEO Hamish Dodds joins me right now.

Hamish, good to have you. Thank you for coming. And congratulations.

HAMISH DODDS, CEO, HARD ROCK INTERNATIONAL: Well, thanks, Neil. I’m happy to be here.

CAVUTO: We are celebrating our 15th anniversary. You are a few ahead of us, but congratulations to you.

What -- I remember when you guys first started. The argument was, well, that will be a fad, Hard Rock is a fad and it will die quickly. You made a point of not letting that happen. Give me some advice how I cannot just end this at 15 years.

DODDS: Well, I can tell you what works for us. And I think really what works for us is just continuing to invest in a great brand and looking for global diversification. So, we’re now in 52 countries. We have revenues of around $3 billion across our company-owned and licensed system.

And we continue to serve great food, great entertainment. Hotels, casinos, cafes give us other methods of growing. And we are able to sort of overcome, I think, the sort of shabby environment that we have got by creating great experiences. So we are still rocking and rolling.

CAVUTO: Indeed you are. I like your advice on investing in the brand. I will tell my bosses that that is something that they have to hop to right away.

DODDS: There you go.

CAVUTO: But, Hamish, I am curious, though. We are hearing all these rumors about Friendly’s, the big ice cream fast-food restaurant that might be filing for Chapter 11, all these eateries that are in big trouble.

It is not cheap to keep these places operating and it’s not cheap for you to keep yours operating. And you have expanded aggressively abroad and that has been a big part of it. But how do you just keep it going here and especially in those economies that are soft over there?

DODDS: Well, I think it is a grind, and I think you are right. There’s a lot of pressure particularly in commodity prices.

We are also obviously in the retail business, where cotton is pretty important to us as part of our T-shirt mix.


DODDS: So it is a grind. I think there is also the additional challenge in the United States of different states and different laws and you have to treat each state somewhat differently.

So you have really got to be locally connected. You have got to have the right people and the right operators on the ground. And as I said before, for us, global diversification helps. I think despite the fact that many of the European economies, as you know, are in pretty solid and pretty sorry state of turmoil, we have also been able to grow pretty well there by not commoditizing our brand.

We have a few locations in each country and a few great city locations. And we try to keep it at that, try and keep the experience special and not over-commoditize the brand.

CAVUTO: What about in China and Abu Dhabi and some of these other locations, where you think the Hard Rock image would be contrary to even their societies? But they seem to like the Western culture link, and they seem to like I don’t know the hipness of Hard Rock. What is it?

DODDS: Yes. Well, I think that is it.

I think that, generally, most of the international community’s really do embrace the American style of living and the American brand. I think that when you look at certainly the Middle Eastern countries, it’s just a very small minority of people that I think have an adverse perspective.

But the vast majority of people that we come to, Chinese, Middle Eastern, Asian really do embrace the whole American culture in terms of building value, entrepreneurial. And they see our brand out there as a great reflection of historic American culture, rock ‘n’ roll and blues.

And so we are trying to bring that to them, but I think our observation is that we are embraced in all of these international markets.

CAVUTO: All right.

Well, congratulations to your success. I’m just 25 years behind you, Hamish, but we hope to...


DODDS: Yes. You will get there, don’t worry.

CAVUTO: But I will pass along your advice about having them invest more.

Hamish Dodds, Hard Rock International CEO in Orlando, Florida, continued success.

DODDS: Thanks.

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