British chain Wetherspoon set to open up to 30 pubs in Ireland

Improved returns in nine NI pubs influenced decision to enter Republic

British pub chain JD Wetherspoon is set to open 30 pubs in the Republic. Group chairman and founder Tim Martin says the company intends to open between three and four pubs this fiscal year with a view to eventually expanding this up to 30 in the longer term.

Wetherspoon is already set to buy the Tonic House in Blackrock, Co Dublin. Mr Martin said that the improved performance in their nine Northern Ireland pubs influenced the decision to enter the Republic.

In addition to Dublin, it is also expected that the group will open in Cork over the coming months.

Furniture warehouse
Wetherspoon almost opened in Dublin about a decade ago when it acquired the freehold on a furniture warehouse in Capel Street for more than €2 million.


However, due to the high costs of doing business in Ireland at the time, the company reportedly sold on the premises at a loss.

The group said it believed property prices in the Republic were no longer so prohibitive.

The British group is expected to remodel the Tonic House pub under its own brand and, according to sources, could spend up to €1 million to pay for the freehold on the property and fit-out costs.

Wetherspoon announced yesterday that its preliminary after- tax profit increased by £7.9 million. The group, which opened its first pub in north London in 1979, added another 29 pubs during the year and sold three.

It plans to open another 30 pubs in the year to the end of July 2014. Revenues grew 7 per cent to £1.28 billion during the 52 weeks, compared with a 53- week financial year in 2012.

Profits before tax and exceptional items were 6.3per cent stronger at £76.9 million, but they fell 3per cent to £57.1 million once exceptional items such as impairment and onerous leases were included.

Mr Martin said this performance was in spite of paying £32.2 million in taxes.

“It is unsustainable to have far higher taxes for the pub industry than those for supermarkets,” he said. “Already, 10,000 pubs have closed and many others are suffering, through insufficient investment.”

Pubs closing
In May, the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) said that statistics indicated up to 26 pubs a week were closing in the UK, up from 18 per week in 2012.

Earlier this week the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (Digi) announced that almost one pub in the country closed every day. – (Additional reporting Reuters)