Press Up’s asset diversity is its Achilles’ heel

Twice it has formally touted itself to outside investors and twice baulked at the response

 Press Up’s portfolio includes the Stella cinema in Rathmines, above, the Dean hotel on Harcourt Street and the Liquor Rooms in Temple Bar. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Press Up’s portfolio includes the Stella cinema in Rathmines, above, the Dean hotel on Harcourt Street and the Liquor Rooms in Temple Bar. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

As revealed in Wednesday’s edition of The Irish Times, Paddy McKillen jnr’s Press Up Entertainment, a 46-outlet strong hospitality group, has abandoned its plan to sell close to half of the operating business for up to €50 million.

This follows on from last year’s decision to pull a scheme to raise up to €60 million via a stock market flotation of Press Up. That plan also included some of the group’s properties, in addition to its operating business.

So that is twice, then, that Press Up has formally touted itself to outside investors, and twice it has baulked at the response. Clearly, investors’ valuation of the business don’t accord with its current owners’ numbers.

Its owners should ask themselves why.

Press Up’s portfolio contains some of the newest, hippest and most interesting establishments in Dublin, such as the Stella cinema in Rathmines, the Dean hotel on Harcourt Street, and the Liquor Rooms in Temple Bar. They are all design-led, generally lavishly fitted out, and very much on trend.

But therein lies the problem (if you’re a property developer trying to sell half of a hospitality operating business): what do all these establishments have in common from an operational point of view, to attract investors? Very little at all.

Press Up’s venues are disparate, independent republics, cobbled together in a makeshift group of individuals, unrelated to each other bar common owners.

What central story was McKillen trying to sell to investors? What economies of scale could be achieved by running all 46 disparate venues – from Asian restaurant Wagamama to boutique hotels – together as a group?

There is no central brand to sell to investors. No standardised system of operation to eke out efficiencies. What savings on procurement could Wow Burger achieve from being lobbed into a buying group with a cocktail bar?

Press Up is a fantastic collection of valuable property assets, albeit ones that currently house businesses that mostly target the same demographic in the same city. Its value as a living, breathing hospitality group is harder to discern.

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