Melco International Development said profit generated by its floating restaurants sank 40 per cent this year compared with the same period last year, having already plunged last year. The company, whose main business is running Aberdeen's Jumbo Seafood restaurant and its two adjoining restaurants, Jumbo Palace and Tai Pak, said it cut 80 staff in April and now employs about 400 staff at the floating restaurants. Chief executive Patrick Huen Wing-ming said salaries were more than $90 million last year but the company would try to retain as many staff as possible, despite the profit drop. It reported an 80 per cent drop in attributable profit last year, to $10.3 million from $57 million in 1996. Mr Huen said the firm had more than $200 million in cash and generated interest income of over $15 million last year. Chairman Stanley Ho Hung-sun attributed the drop in business to the state of Japan's economy. Most customers were Japanese, 'but Japan is not doing well and a lot fewer Japanese are coming to Hong Kong', he said. About 65 per cent of the restaurant's patrons were tourists, with Japanese tourists making up more than 40 per cent. Mr Ho said with markets such as Thailand slowly picking up, he expected the tourism slump in Hong Kong to bottom in the latter part of the year. Deputy general manager Tong Yau said the company was seeking to extend its local client base by advertising in magazines. He said negotiations for a few projects had been put on hold.