THE chairman of the powerful Dublin publicans' lobby group the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) has resigned following the decision of the Madigan Pub Group to take over a Dublin pub on behalf of a receiver.
David Madigan resigned his position last week "with immediate effect" and a new chairman will be appointed in the New Year.
His decision relates to a takeover of the well-known Clarke's pub in Irishtown, Dublin 4, which has been put in receivership by Bank of Scotland.
The pub is now shut but it is believed many LVA members were concerned when they learned that the Madigan Pub Group, which runs a number of pubs in the Dublin area, had been appointed by the receiver to take over the running of the pub, which is near Lansdowne Road.
"While much of the speculation and controversy surrounding the Madigan Group's decision to operate a Dublin pub on behalf of a receiver has been ill-informed, there is no doubt that it has proved difficult for both David and the association itself," Donall O'Keeffe, chief executive of the LVA, told members in a letter dated December 17.
It is believed that the pub will re-open under new management early in the new year but, in the meantime, some publicans have expressed concern about members of the LVA stepping in to take over businesses belonging to fellow members which have run into financial trouble.
Contacted by the Sunday Independent last Friday and asked for his views on the growing number of pub receiverships, Mr O'Keeffe said: "We have enormous concerns about extended receiverships. It's an unfortunate reality that there will be receiverships in the pub trade, but if that is the case what we would like to see is that the pub is put on the market and sold quickly. Pubs should be run by publicans, not by accountants. Where a receiver is appointed, fair enough, but the pub should then be sold promptly."
It is believed that up to 10 well-known pubs – excluding those in the Quinn Group – have been taken over by receivers in the last three months. And with Bank of Scotland in the process of exiting the Irish market, sources in the licensed trade expressed their concern that its "huge exposure" to pubs and restaurants will see a wave of fresh receiverships in 2013.
One well-placed source said as many as 30 pubs in Dublin city are expected to be put into the hands of receivers in the early weeks of the new year. Another source placed the number of expected receiverships at 46, while stressing that this figure included restaurants as well as bars.
Asked by the Sunday Independent if the Bank of Scotland's decisions to appoint receivers to pubs in the capital and beyond were made on an individual basis or as part of a wider policy to the exit the Irish market, a spokesman for the bank said: "Bank of Scotland manages its customers on a case-by-case basis and only appoints a receiver as a last resort, and when all other avenues have been explored."
In his letter to Dublin publicans, LVA chief executive Donall O'Keeffe urged those members in financial difficulty to do their best to work with their banks, saying: "There is no doubt that there will be many more pub receiverships in Dublin in 2013 and beyond. We should remember that it is the banks, and not the operators, that appoint receivers. For those in financial distress, retaining professional advice and working with your banks should remain your priority," he said.
Meanwhile, Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFA) CEO Padraig Cribben expressed his disappointment at the decision by the Bank of Scotland to appoint receivers to a number of pubs in the run up to Christmas, saying: "While we cannot comment on individual cases, we are naturally very disappointed to hear that receivers have been appointed by Bank of Scotland Ireland to a number of premises. The timing in particular coming up to Christmas is unfortunate but this is the very real face of owning a pub in Ireland in 2012.
"The Irish pub as we know it is on its knees."