Bewley’s Cafe registered €462,000 loss before closure decision

Decision to shut down Grafton Street outlet later reversed

The company that operates Bewley’s Cafe on Dublin’s Grafton Street recorded pretax losses of €462,000 before a decision was made to shut down the business last year.

The shock closure announcement in May 2020 was later reversed and the business reopened to customers last August as Covid-19 restrictions eased.

New accounts for Bewley’s Cafe Grafton Street Ltd show that the business reduced its pretax losses by 85 per cent from €3.15 million in 2018 to €462,000 in 2019.

This came as revenues fell by 4 per cent from €5.02 million to €4.82 million. The company recorded a post-tax loss of €223,000 in 2019 after receiving a corporation tax credit of €239,000.

Bewley's Cafe reopened last August after the company resolved a rental dispute with a firm connected to Johnny Ronan, RGRE Grafton Ltd.

The accounts show that the rental charge for 2019 was unchanged from 2018 at €1.46 million, which equated to 30 per cent of revenues for 2019.

On the impact of Covid-19, a note attached to the accounts states states that the company’s net debt in December 2020 had increased by €1.4 million over 12 months to €14.6 million.

On the planned reopening of Bewley’s to diners this summer, a spokeswoman said: “We are looking forward to welcoming our customers back in Grafton Street.”

Stained glass

The accounts also disclose that in December 2020 the firm transferred ownership of glass panels by artists Harry Clarke, Pauline Bewick and Jim Fitzpatrick to the company's parent, Bewley's Ltd.

The note states “that the landlord of the Grafton Street premises, RGRE Grafton Ltd, has claimed ownership of certain of these artworks and has initiated legal proceedings against the company, which proceedings are being vigorously defended”.

The case came before court in February and is due back in court next month after being admitted to the fast-track Commercial Court list.

Numbers employed at Bewley’s Grafton Street totalled 131 as staff costs totalled €2.8 million in 2019.

The company is a subsidiary of Bewley’s Ltd and separate accounts show that the group recorded pretax profits of €879,000 in 2019.

Revenues fell by 2.6 per cent from €147.63 million to €143.68 million.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times