13 October 2015

Nama set to sell three of Belfast’s best known bars from collapsed pub chain


Three of Belfast’s best known pubs once owned by collapsed bar chain Botanic Inns are set to go on sale, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

It’s understood the Botanic Inn on Malone Road, the King’s Head on the Lisburn Road and Botanic Avenue’s Madison’s bar and hotel will go on the market at the end of this month, part of the latest disposals of the now scattered Botanic Inns empire.

And they are being sold by the Republic’s bad bank, Nama, which took control of the properties.

They are currently being run by Horatio Group — a firm set up by Stephen Magorrian, the former managing director of Botanic Inns.

The Botanic Inns group went into administration in 2013.

It’s understood Horatio Group had been trying to buy the three bars over the last two years.

But now Nama — which did not wish to comment on the deal — is soon to put the bars on the open market.

It’s expected Horatio Group will be one of the main firms competing to snap up the pubs. And Horatio Group may also be in the running to buy the Northern Whig pub in Belfast city centre, which is also under Nama, and is currently being run by the group.

The bars are expected to be “snapped up quickly”, according to Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster.

“The way they (the pubs) are coming to the market is a legacy of the challenging past we have come through, with many good businesses suffering during the economic crash,” he said.

“But it’s a positive sign and we expect great interest with lots of people waiting in the wings. I expect them to be snapped up quickly at market value.”

He said he would expect the new owners of the popular bars to keep on staff working across the pubs.

“If they are bought, we would hope that whoever buys them would honour any legal commitments, and moral.

“The staff have worked hard, and they (new owners) will be getting good quality, well-trained staff.”

Horatio Group also operates Horatio Todd’s in east Belfast, the drink off-licences, Molly Brown’s in Newtownards and Denvir’s in Downpatrick, which are not affected by the sale.

Horatio Group did not wish to comment. Turnover at the Horatio Taverns Limited group was around £8.1m for the period from February 2013 and May 2014, according to Companies House.

It made a small loss of £44,000 before tax.

The firm employs around 320 staff across its pubs.

And the latest pubs to go on the market come as a number of other hospitality deals have also been completed.

More than £10m worth of public house sales have happened in the last 12 months, equalling more than two dozen transactions, according to commercial property firm, Osborne King.

That includes Auntie Annie’s on the Dublin Road in Belfast, the Clarendon Bar in Londonderry and the former Clubland in Cookstown.

Meanwhile, last week Botanic Inns former head office, Maxol House on the Ormeau Road, was placed on the market for offers around £850,000.

It was once owned by Downpatrick developer, John Miskelly, who at one stage, pre-property collapse, hit the headlines when he made a failed bid to buy Liverpool Football Club.

View this article and more at the Belfast Telegraph

Related Articles