David Sprinkle quoted in Orlando Sentinel

by David Sprinkle

Hard Rock to move corporate headquarters out of Orlando

by: Paul Brinkmann, Contact Reporter, Orlando Sentinel,  September 5, 2017  6:40 PM

Hard Rock International is planning to move its corporate headquarters out of Orlando in summer 2018, but it has yet to clarify for its 200 local employees if their jobs will be cut or moved, and if they will be allowed to transfer.

The company, which includes casinos, hotels and 160 cafes in more than 70 countries, has been based in Orlando since the Seminole Tribe bought it in 2007. But the move from Orlando might have been sealed when Hamish Dodds, CEO for 13 years, resigned last year.

Since Dodds left, the company has been led by Jim Allen, who is based at the casino in South Florida. The company confirmed the plan to move corporate jobs to the Hollywood location.

“Hard Rock International … will move staff headquarters from Orlando to South Florida, joining forces with ownership, The Seminole Tribe of Florida, and The Seminole Gaming organization,” a statement from the company said. “The opportunity to combine the world-class talent of all three companies will create an even more powerful organization. At this time, details of the move and timing are still to be determined.”

A job notice for a financial executive posted by the company recently included a warning that the headquarters would move soon.

“Any corporate headquarters moving out of Orlando is not a good thing. It’s surprising because Orlando is a high-growth market. But they are owned by the Seminole Tribe, and that’s where the tribe headquarters are,” said David Sprinkle, an executive with Veritas Recruiting in Orlando.

The first Hard Rock Cafe opened in London in 1971, in a former Rolls Royce dealership, after two Americans decided they wanted a traditional burger joint in England. Its location in Orlando is designed to look partly like the Coliseum in Rome.

The casino part of the business is now dominating the company, sources said.

“It became obvious last year that they were focused more on the gaming business every day,” said an employee at the company who asked not to be identified because of concerns about how his employers would react. “They make so much money with their gaming pact with the state of Florida.”

The company has 23 hotels and 11 casinos. It is also known for its memorabilia collections, hanging on the walls in many locations. The company says its most successful properties are in Tampa and Hollywood, both owned and operated by The Seminole Tribe of Florida. Other locations include Bali, Chicago, Cancun, Ibiza, Las Vegas, Macau and San Diego.

“One less corporate headquarters is not good,” Sprinkle said. “The good thing is, the job market is really strong in Central Florida, especially for finance, accounting and human resources.”

Hard Rock International has been growing and adding new properties.

In March for example, Hard Rock and its partners announced they reached an agreement with a wholly-owned subsidiary of investor Carl Icahn to purchase Atlantic City’s former Trump Taj Mahal and rebrand as the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.

The company also unveiled major expansion plans for the South Florida resort in February. It includes a new hotel shaped like a giant guitar; construction started in March. The expansion is expected to bring nearly 20,000 jobs, the Seminoles said. The hotel will increase the resort’s rooms to 1,273 and add five new restaurants, a buffet and nightclub at its complex on U.S. 441 north of Stirling Road, the Seminoles said.