Fallon & Byrne seeks investors as it looks to double in size

Epicurean retail group signs 25-year lease with Eir for city centre outlet

 Fallon & Byrne: has struck a deal with Eir to seek planning permission for a huge extension. Photograph: Eric Luke

Fallon & Byrne: has struck a deal with Eir to seek planning permission for a huge extension. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

The high-profile Dublin foodhall and restaurant group Fallon & Byrne has hired Goodbody stockbrokers to raise about €6 million of fresh capital to fund a major expansion plan, according to market sources.

The group, which has annual sales of about €15 million and employs about 350 staff, will look to double in size over the next five years. It is planning a large extension at its city centre flagship and a new retail outlet at Connolly railway station in Dublin, which may set the template for a wider retail rollout.

The group will also open a major new outlet in Dundrum Town Centre, once an extension there is built in coming years. It also operates venues in the Swan Centre in Rathmines and in Dún Laoghaire, to the south of the city.

The directors of the business were unavailable for comment this week. However, Goodbody recently circulated an information memorandum for the fundraising to potential investors, laying out some of the group’s expansion plans. It is believed that the fresh capital could be either debt or equity, or a mixture of both, and that the final funding mix has yet to be decided.

Although a straightforward debt fundraising would be the most obvious avenue for the business to pursue, market sources say Fallon & Byrne is also exploring the possibility of raising equity from some of Goodbody’s wealthy private clients – in effect, a stake in the business could be sold to raise capital.

Separately, it is also believed that major supermarket chains, including Dunnes Stores and SuperValu owner Musgrave, harbour an interest in taking a stake in the business, or even buying it in its entirety.

Economic boom

Fallon & Byrne, which was originally opened in the mould of a New York-style epicurean market hall, was founded at the tail-end of the last economic boom by investors including Dublin property developer Paul Byrne and his wife Fiona McHugh, the former editor of the Irish edition of the Sunday Times newspaper.

Its sprawling flagship outlet is located on Exchequer Street in Dublin city centre, with a foodhall on the ground floor, above a wine bar in the basement, with a large fine-dining restaurant and a function hall on the upper floors.

The flagship is leased from telecoms company Eir – the building once housed a large city telephone exchange for Telecom Éireann. The lease on the Exchequer Street property was due to run out in 2021, and Fallon & Byrne is understood to have held lengthy negotiations with Eir about a renewal.

Lease negotiations with Eir were stepped up after the telecoms firm changed hands last year when it was bought by a consortium led by French group Iliad. In recent weeks, Fallon & Byrne and Eir signed a new 25-year lease.

Huge extension

The Eir-owned property backs on to a large car park site, which is currently used to store old telecom vans. Fallon & Byrne has struck a deal with Eir that will allow it to seek planning permission for a huge extension into the car park.

The scheme has yet to be finalised and submitted to Dublin City Council planners for consideration, but it is understood to include a rooftop terrace area and extensions to its function space and the foodhall.

The Connolly outlet will open towards the end of the summer in place of some of the station’s old ticket booths. It will be a standalone retail outlet, selling food goods and also ready meals, a side of the business that will expand in future. Long-term, Fallon & Byrne may roll out a chain of express-style retail outlets in high-footfall shopping areas.