End of an era as Bobby Kerr moves on from Insomnia

Businessman sells his shares in coffee chain he established 20 years ago

Insomnia founder Bobby Kerr and chief executive Harry O’Kelly.

Insomnia founder Bobby Kerr and chief executive Harry O’Kelly.


Businessman Bobby Kerr is to leave Insomnia, the coffee chain he established 20 years ago, after selling his stake in the company to other shareholders.

Mr Kerr said he intended to focus on his broadcasting career, which includes presenting two popular radio shows on Newstalk.

Mr Kerr held just under a one-third stake in Insomnia via a company called BHJ Holdings Limited. The other main shareholders are current chief executive Harry O’Kelly and John Clohisey, who is to become the company’s chairman.

Insomnia, which began life in a bookshop in Galway, is one of the largest Irish coffee chains, with a portfolio of 150 stores between Ireland and Britain, some of which are in partnership with retailers such as Spar and Mace. The company also has more than 350 self-service machines in operation in Ireland and the UK.

Insomnia employs about 400 people directly throughout Ireland along with a further 350 people through its concessions and franchised stores.

Mr Kerr served as the company’s chief executive until 2010, when he switched roles to become chairman.

“This is a very bittersweet day for me, Insomnia has been such a big part of my life for nearly two decades and I am very proud of what I achieved here. I will miss the work and the people, many of whom I have formed lifelong friendships with. However, I look forward to the next chapter for me and my family,” he said.

The company also announced that chief finance officer Barry Kehoe had joined the board of directors, while Dara O’Flynn had been appointed chief operating officer of the company earlier this month.