Commercial Property

Thirteen pubs pull in over €35m in first nine months of year

Despite post-Covid bounce, challenges such as staff retention and high operational costs continue to persist in trade

The Abbey Tavern in Howth was bought by a consortium for about €2m

Some 13 pubs changed hands in the first nine months of this year worth a combined €35.5 million. Of those, seven were in Dublin city and six were in the capital’s suburbs, according to the latest figures from Lisney.

The strong transactions suggest that the post Covid-19 fillip in consumer spending in bricks and mortar retail is also being experienced in sectors of the pub trade. This is particularly reflected in demand for pub properties located in good trading areas.

Another four worth a combined €7.6 million or so are close to being sold with contracts exchanged and awaiting close. A further 10 have gone sale agreed while as many as 19 others are on the market.

In terms of the drink trade, suburban premises, particularly those that serve food, continued to benefit “from consumers spending more time in their local areas as they hybrid work…,” said Rory Browne of Lisney.

“Conversely, city centre premises continued to deal with the partial absence of customers, especially the post-work Friday trade, but their trade also improved due to the recovery in tourism.”

The Headline Bar, Portobello is sale agreed. It was guiding €1.3m

He did caution, however, that challenges such as staff retention and high operational costs continue to persist and will likely continue to with the return to 13 per cent Vat rate.

Among the pubs to change hands was the Shipwright in Ringsend village, Dublin 4, which was bought by an investor for more than the €3 million which was achieved by joint agents Martin Property Consultants and John P Younge. Extending to 890 square metres over three floors and a basement, its ground floors accommodate a pub, restaurant and off-licence while the upper floors are laid out in 13 en suite bedrooms.

McCloskey’s in Donnybrook, Dublin 4 was acquired by an investor who is letting out the pub and developing to the rear. Joint agents Lisney and Stokes Property were guiding €1.9 million for the property which comes with planning permission for five residential and one retail unit.

Also in Dublin 4, Kevin Arundel of Chop House secured a lease with an option to buy Mulligans of Sandymount from Kieran Mulligan. The property extends to 406 square metres. over ground floor and basement in a mixed use apartment and office complex.

McLoughlin’s Bar in Dun Laoghaire sold for €850,000 and the latter two deals were brokered by John Ryan of BDM.

Meanwhile Niall Fortune of Eddie Rockets has further expanded his Daata restaurant chain by purchasing Flash Harry’s pub in Blackrock, Co Dublin for which Ben Pearson of Agar was quoting €1.2 million. An Indian style restaurant, Daata already trades in Glasthule, Greystones and Bray.

The Clock, Thomas Street: believed to be sold for over €2m

Among the off-market deals understood to have completed are The Clock on Thomas Street, Dublin 8, which is believed to have sold for more than €2 million to an investment team which has added to its portfolio which already includes the nearby Baker’s pub.

The Terenure Inn is believed to have sold for more than €3 million.

In March, the Abbey Tavern in Howth was bought by a business consortium headed up by property investor and developer Daniel Givens for around €2 million. John Ryan had been guiding €1.75 million.

Around the same time, The Barge on Charlemont Street, Dublin 2, was bought by McCafferty’s, an international pub chain headed by Donegal man Declan Boyle. While the price paid for the premises was not disclosed, it is understood to have almost secured the €3.75 million which John Hughes of CBRE had been guiding on behalf of the liquidators of IBRC which was disposing of the assets of Sean Quinn’s empire.

Closer to the city centre, entrepreneur Eamon Waters’ company Sretaw was reported by the Sunday Times to be paying €6.8 million for the Fade Street Social property in Dublin 2, which accommodated Dylan McGrath’s hospitality venue. It was owned by Defa Properties controlled by McGrath and his partner Vincent Melinn. Defa remains the tenant.

John Ryan said a reflection of the strength of demand was seen in the 90 enquiries which he received for The Headline Bar, a gastro pub near the trendy Portobello area of Dublin 8 for which he had been quoting over €1.3 million. It is now sale agreed as is the Brú House in Fairview, Dublin 3.

Market watchers are also waiting to see if Devitt’s, a pub on Camden Street will achieve the €14-€18 million price indicated in a recent issue of The Currency online magazine.

Devitts adjoins a former Ulster Bank branch for which Cushman & Wakefield is quoting €900,000. If Emerald Investment acquired and amalgamated the two premises, it would create a major new hospitality venue on the Camden night life strip. In 2016 Devitt’s was sold for a price reported to be in the €2-€4 million range.

It will also be interesting to see if some of the other Ulster Bank branches will be adapted to pubs, especially those with period features such as the one on the corner of Pembroke and Baggott streets in Dublin 2. While many are in good trading locations, some of their ground floors are small which may be more suitable for food and beverage outlets.

Another interesting feature of the market will be the change in licensing legislation which aims to modernise alcohol-related laws and the night-time economy so that nightclubs and late bars will no longer need to go through expensive court procedures to secure extended opening hours.

A continuing feature of the market is the demand for pubs with alternative use potential. One of those currently on the market is McGowans pub at 174 Harold’s Cross Road, Dublin 6, which also benefits from €77,000 in rental income from residential units. Agent Shane Markey of Lisney pointed out that its 0.24 acre site has “clear potential for re-development” and is quoting €2 million.