British pub group JD Wetherspoon is to focus its medium-term Irish growth plans on the Dublin area.
Speaking on the back of a strong third quarter trading update Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin yesterday said the Dublin area is big enough to absorb a number of new openings in the coming years.
The group currently operates five pubs in Ireland — four in suburban Dublin and one in Cork — and has long-term plans to operate 40-50 premises here. While it has undeveloped sites in Carlow and Waterford, these are effectively on the back burner as Dublin has become priority for Wetherspoon’s Irish operations.
The focus for the next 18 months will be on developing two big sites in Dublin. A €20m hotel/pub development on Camden Street recently got planning approval and is expected to take well over a year to build before opening in January 2019.
Another pub, in Abbey Street, could open around the same time. A planning decision on that project is expected shortly. While these two are Wetherspoon’s first city centre projects in Dublin, Mr Martin said expansion will take in both city and suburban locations, adding that management continues to look for available sites.
Yesterday’s third quarter trading update — covering the three months to the end of April — saw like-for-like sales growth of 4% and total sales growth of 1.3%.
Mr Martin said management was “very pleased” with the performance of the group’s existing Irish portfolio.
While he is confident of future growth here, Mr Martin has previously said that planned city centre openings — in both Dublin and Belfast — would act as a bellwether for Wetherspoon’s future expansion plans in Ireland.
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