Carmichaels Make Acquisitions
The Carmichael Group, backed by the Ulster Bank, has taken ownership of The Stables in Groomsport, The Esplanade in Ballyholme and The Bryansburn in Bangor in a deal worth nearly £3m.
The company sold both The Bryansburn and The Stables as part of a six-pub deal to MAR Properties in 2006, one which was reported to be worth more than £12.5m. MAR Properties sold 15 pubs throughout County Down, including the Groomsport Inn, Lisbarnett House and The Portaferry Hotel, to Merchant Hotel owner Beannchor Group, headed by Bill Wolsey, in 2011.
A subsidiary of Beannchor, North Down Leisure Ltd, has now sold three of the pubs to the Carmichael Group. The new additions will join the Carmichael's current portfolio which consists of the Rosspark Hotel in Kells and Morrison's Bar in Belfast. The group will take over the day-to-day operation of The Bryansburn, while The Stables and The Esplanade will continue to be run by existing tenants.
"With the bank's backing and expertise, we are confident we can add further value to these landmark businesses," Ian Carmichael said.
He said the group is about to launch a refurbishment programme at The Bryansburn and is 'hopeful' of completing another purchase this year. He's also looking at the possibility of further acquisitions.
Horwood & Holmes Corporate Finance ("HHCF") advised on the Carmichael deal, and said it is a sign of confidence in the pub sector in Northern Ireland. "The Carmichael Group is a long established brand name in the Northern Ireland pub and hotel sector," Wayne Horwood, a Partner in HHCF said. "Having exited the majority of their outlets in 2006, it is a tremendous boost to see the Carmichael's reinvesting in the sector in 2012 with the support of Ulster Bank."
Wayne Horwood, HHCF
"It is a testimony to their confidence in the locations and prospects for the sector in the future. Fundamentally it is evidence that transactions in the right structure for the right team are still capable of achieving bank funding support. Hopefully 2012 will see more positive news in the Northern Ireland leisure sector."
"The pub trade is going through well-documented challenges, but we have confidence in the long-term viability of good sites under experienced, able operators," Ulster Bank corporate banking manager Gordon Davidson said. "The Carmichaels have an excellent track-record in the sector, having successfully built and run some of Northern Ireland's leading pubs, including Morrison's, over many years, and we are pleased to support this important deal."
"We own a number of licensed premises across Northern Ireland and will continue to be active in the sector in the future but we've sold these assets because they aren't part of our long-term strategy," explained James Sinton, finance director at Beannchor Group, on the disposal of the pubs.