British pub chain Wetherspoons looking at four popular city bars
Published 01/06/2014 | 02:30
BRITISH pub giant Wetherspoons is poised to swoop on four of Dublin's most famous pubs, the Sunday Independent has learnt.
The four pubs are part of the former Capital Bars Group, which entered a mixed examinership and receivership process back in 2009.
They include two iconic watering holes popular with the LGBT community – The George and The Dragon – the Belle Epoque style superpub Cafe en Seine, and the popular party and nightclub haunt Howl at the Moon on Lower Mount Street.
The entire portfolio is on the market for €12m but the pubs are also on sale as individual investments.
The Sunday Independent understands the Wetherspoons chain, which will open its first pub in the Republic next month in Blackrock, is actively looking in detail at the distressed disposal.
JD Wetherspoons wants to open 30 pubs in the Republic in the next few years and believes there is value to be had as the pub trade here undergoes a retrenchment with many landmark pubs up for grabs at prices up to 70 per cent lower than during the boom.
More than 1,300 pubs have called time in the last 10 years in Ireland, but the trade improved considerably last year after strong trading during the summer with the hot spell convincing many to holiday at home.
And planned laws for minimum alcohol pricing will stem the availability of cheap liquor in supermarkets.
Wetherspoons chairman Tim Martin has said the company is looking at locations all over Ireland.
As well opening the former Tonic Bar at Temple Road in Blackrock on July 7, the company – which has opened 28 new pubs in the UK since the start of the financial year – will open a new pub in Cork within months.
The chain has more than 900 pubs and holds the title of most-visited pub and casual dining brand in the UK ahead of Pizza Hut. The hostelry company reported before tax profits of £37.8m (€46.4m) last year.
The Capital Bars Group, headed up by brothers Liam and Des O'Dwyer, built up a considerable portfolio of blue-chip hotel and pub properties during the boom.
The George and The Dragon, both on South Great Georges Street, along with Cafe en Seine, are now on the market on the joint instructions of receiver Pearse Farrell of RSM Farrell Grant Sparks and the O'Dwyers, for €3.5m each. Howl at the Moon has a guide price of €1.5m.