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Former Mayor of Wexford John Roche is the new owner of three hotels in Rosslare Strand, Kilmore Quay and Ballybunion

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John Roche.

John Roche.

John Roche.

wexfordpeople

A former Mayor of Wexford has purchased three hotels including the Coast Hotels in Rosslare Strand and Kilmore Quay and the Wilde Hotel in Ballybunion, County Kerry in a multi-million euro deal with a silent partner.

John Roche, a native of Wexford town who has lived outside Enniscorthy for many years, has confirmed that he is the new co-owner and commercial director of the three hotels which were sold by Michael Heffernan, a son of  Dunnes Stores boss Margaret Heffernan.

His equal partner in the enterprises is a businessman from outside County Wexford who wishes to remain anonymous. The purchase price has also not been disclosed.

Mr Roche, a former Independent councillor who served as Mayor of Wexford, said he and his business colleague purchased the hotels on a 50/50 basis during subsequent negotiations after the 32-bedroom Coast Hotel, Rosslare was withdrawn at auction in April. It had been placed on the market by Keane Auctioneers with a guide price of between €3.5 and €4 million .

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He and the business partner have taken over the management companies of the hotels – H&H Holdings in the case of the Coast Hotel in Rosslare Strand, Kilmore Holdings Ltd in the case of the Coast Hotel in Kilmore Quay and Ballybunion Investments Ltd which owns the Wilde Hotel.

"We have purchased the hotels and it is our intention to keep running them as they are and to retain the staff at all the hotels”, said Mr Roche, the former owner of amusement arcades and casinos in Wexford, New Ross and Curracloe who has been General Secretary of the Irish Amusement Trades Association for the past 30 years.

There are 71 staff employed in Rosslare Strand,27 in Kilmore Quay and 27 in Ballybunion.

He said the partnership has been involved in the hotels for a number of months and originally intended to wait until the end of the summer season to make an announcement, in order to give them time to put their own stamp on the businesses.

"We are in the process of putting our own stamp on them. The staff and customers have been very patient with us as we carry out some works.

"It is our intention to retain the staff and hopefully to expand on that. The challenge facing resort hotels is that they go quiet in the winter. We will be working to extend that to 52 weeks of the year to combine tourism business with a good local business. We think there is a lot of potential there.”

He said his role is Commercial Direct of the group and he will not personally be involved in the day today running of the hotels. “The analogy I like  to use is that of a ship – the ship has an owner but when the ship is sailing, the captain of the ship is in total control  and the hotels will be run by the managers and the staff.”

The general manager of Coast Rosslare is Elaine Keating; in Coast Kilmore Quay it is Caitriona Hyland and in The Wilde, Ballybunion it is Tina Moriarity. “They are the captains of the ships and they will be involved in the day to day management”, said Mr Roche.

He has been involved in the gambling, leisure and entertainment business since 1981, owning and running amusement and gaming arcades throughout Ireland including Wexford but is currently  not directly involved in  the business.

He began his working life in the retail drapery business as an employee of The Man’s Shop (now Charles Pierce Menswear) on Wexford’s Main Street in the 1960s, later gaining employment in Wexford Gas Company.

He was first elected as an Independent councillor in 1974, serving two terms as chairman of Wexford County Council and was Mayor of Wexford for one term in the late 1970s.


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