British pub group JD Wetherspoon is to invest €30m boosting its Irish pub and hotel portfolio next year.
In total, the group said it plans to invest £200m (€240m) across the UK and Ireland in the next four years. That spend covers new pubs — including some previously announced planned openings — and the refurbishment and enlargement of existing sites.
However, as part of the investment, the group plans to open 60 new pubs across the two countries over the course of the four years. It anticipates that the investment will result in approximately 10,000 new jobs.
“We are looking forward to opening many more new pubs, as well as investing in existing pubs over the next four years,” said founder and chairman Tim Martin.
“We are especially pleased that a large proportion of the investment will be in smaller towns and cities which have seen a decline in investment in recent years,” he said.
Wetherspoon currently operates over 900 pubs in the UK and Ireland. In the Republic it owns seven — four in suburban Dublin, one in Carlow town, and one each in Dublin and Cork city centres. It also has four in various stages of development in Dublin city centre, Waterford and Galway.
Next year’s €30m Irish investment will go on opening the Waterford and Galway pubs as well as two previously-announced Dublin city centre outlets on Hanover Quay and Camden St.
The latter — an 89-bedroom hotel/superpub project opening next summer — will cost €20m alone.
The 60 new openings planned for the next four years will also likely include new Irish pubs not yet in the planning pipeline.
Mr Martin said, only last month, that Wetherspoon has ambitious growth plans for its Irish operations — looking to, ultimately, boost its Irish-based pub numbers to around 30 in the coming years.
“There’s definitely room for half a dozen more [Wetherspoon outlets] in Dublin; both in the city and suburbs. And, there’s room for one or two more in Cork,” he said.
Mr Martin also recently admitted that Wetherspoon may have been too “timid”, initially, in growing its business in Ireland.
“Maybe if we’d been more buccaneering we could already have more than a dozen pubs in Dublin,” he said.
Mr Martin — a vocal supporter of Britain leaving the EU — also said a no-deal Brexit would not negatively affect Wetherspoon’s Irish operations as he believes a free trade deal will be struck between the EU and the UK and no tariffs will be placed on beer Wetherspoon exports into the Republic.
The group remains on the look-out for new sites around Ireland, but many of its future openings are likely to be in Dublin.
It is understood that it has also turned down a number of sites in Cork for differing reasons, although it is keen to add to its one existing pub in the city.
News of Wetherspoon’s updated investment plans came amid economic uncertainty with consumers in Britain due to go to the polls tomorrow in a national election that could decide when or if Britain leaves the EU.
Wetherspoon said, last month, that total group sales increased by 5.6% in the first quarter of its current financial year — covering the three months to the end of October — and that the Irish business had shown good sales growth.
Additional reporting Reuters