Three British pub chains scouring for Dublin acquisitions
Interest of Greene King, the brewer behind Old Speckled Hen ale, follows JD Wetherspoon’s entry into Irish pub market
JD Wetherspoon has purchased the Tonic Pub in Blackrock
Three major British pub chains are now scouring the Dublin market for acquisitions.
Intermediaries acting on behalf of Greene King, the brewer behind Old Speckled Hen ale, have in recent weeks approached the owners of several large suburban Dublin pubs asking if they would be interested in selling up.
Greene King is one of the largest brew-pub chains in the UK and is a major rival to JD Wetherspoon, which recently agreed to buy two Dublin pubs and announced a plan to open up to 30 premises here.
It is also understood from a number of industry sources that a third unnamed major British chain is also in the market and has appointed advisers here to represent it.
Charlie Chawke, the south Dublin publican who owns several landmark premises, including the Dropping Well, the Old Orchard Inn and the Goat, confirmed he had been approached recently by an intermediary on behalf of Greene King.
“That’s correct, I was approached, but I am just not interested in selling,” said Mr Chawke, who in 2005 paid €22 million for the Old Orchard in Rathfarnham, the highest price yet paid for an Irish pub.
Greene King wants to acquire suburban premises outside the city centre, with large car parks. It is understood to be particularly interested in acquiring premises in working-class areas.
JD Wetherspoon, which runs about 800 pubs in the UK, including nine in Northern Ireland, is also initially targeting pubs outside of the city centre. It recently agreed to buy Tonic in Blackrock and the 40 Foot in Dún Laoghaire.
Wetherspoon’s, whose pubs often open for breakfast, is being represented by Jamie Conlon, a former senior executive with Masterchef. It is understood the chain has also been receiving advice from KPMG.
Donall O’Keeffe, the chief executive of the Licensed Vintners Association which represents about 700 Dublin publicans, said yesterday that it was unclear how the city’s pubs market may be affected by the new entries.
“But the acquisitions by Wetherspoon’s, and the fact that a number of other UK chains are looking at the Irish market, is certainly a significant development,” he said.
Greene King, which is listed on the London stock exchange with a market capitalisation of £1.82 billion, declined to comment yesterday.
It operates just under 1,000 pubs in Britain, about half of which are unbranded. It also works in partnership with a further 1,200 pubs through its leasing division.