UK pub group eyes Irish locations

British pub group Mitchells & Butlers is understood to be sizing up expansion opportunities across Ireland, with up to six potential locations already thought to have been identified in Cork and Dublin.

UK pub group eyes Irish locations

The company owns pub chains like All Bar One and the Irish-themed O’Neill’s, but it is thought M&B is initially focused on introducing its family-themed restaurant concept here.

The group owns UK eatery chains such as Harvester, Miller & Carter, and Toby Carvery. There is a possibility that the entrance of the All Bar One pub and eatery is being considered.

A spokesperson for the group — which counts Irish investors John Magnier and JP McManus among its shareholders, via one of their investment vehicles — said the group doesn’t comment on market rumours specifically, but added: “M&B is always looking at opportunities to grow its business and, so, it continually monitors opportunities across a wide range of markets.”

M&B’s entry to Ireland would build on recent talk regarding a number of UK pub groups focusing on the Irish market for their expansion plans.

JD Wetherspoon has already stated it could open between 30 and 50 pubs here over the coming decade, with the first arriving in April. Brewer Greene King has also been linked with potential investment.

It has been mooted that M&B could open up to 20 premises, across its various brands, in Ireland over the next four years with both board approval and cash apparently in place to do so.

In its recent outlook report for the Irish retail property sector, real estate consultants Savills said UK pub chains are likely to be one of the most active players in the market this year.

On the back of that report, Savills’ retail divisional director, Bernadine Hogan, said that any influx of British pub owners — most of which are publicly quoted companies — would be a positive development and a show of strength for Ireland’s commercial property sector.

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