Belfast Telegraph

KFC tycoon fries up £7m profits despite revenues falling by 18%

By Clare Weir

The company led by millionaire Michael Herbert which holds Europe's largest KFC franchise has reported pre-tax profits of £7m.

Financial statements show that Herbel Restaurants Ltd recorded a large increase in spite of revenues falling by 18% to £23.53m and a £1.9m tax settlement with HMRC denting profits.

Mr Herbert is a frequent face on annual Northern Ireland rich lists and has named numerous developments after his wife and business partner Lesley, who retired as a director of Herbel Restaurants Ltd in 2013.

That year, the firm generated £21.99m from KFC sales with £1.5m generated from rental income.

The directors state that the KFC franchise business "continues to trade strongly despite the economic downturn".

It has KFC outlets in the Republic, the Isle of Man, Scotland and the south west of England, as well as Northern Ireland.

However, staff numbers are down, with the number of sales staff at 456 in 2012, down from 525 the year before. As well as running fast food firms, the company holds a substantial investment property portfolio throughout the UK.

To the year ending December 2013, the company held investment properties totalling £24.8m, with a significant number of its properties said to be occupied by "leading retail chains in prime locations".

The portfolio includes units in shopping centres, an industrial estate and office accommodation.

The report said that the company continued to achieve "good rental yields".

Linked firms of which Mr Herbert is also a director include Lebreh Limited.

The report said that at the year end, Herbel Restaurants Limited owed Lebreh Limited £14,403,364, as a result of cash transfers between companies and the payment of expenses by and on behalf of Lebreh Limited.

Lebreh Limited owns properties which are occupied by Herbel Restaurants Limited and are used as retail outlets.

Mr and Mrs Herbert are also partners in Lesley Place Partnership.

Mr Herbert is also a director of Donegall Place Investments Limited, a company incorporated in Northern Ireland.

Donegall Place Investments Limited is a joint venture between Lebreh Limited and a third party.

Background

Michael Herbert is one of Northern Ireland's best-known businessmen, despite keeping a relatively low profile. Fried chicken from Kentucky has provided his golden ticket to wealth - and according to Herbel Restaurants' latest report, he is still seeking opportunities for more fast food operations and property investments. Last year three men were jailed over a bid to burgle his home on Belfast's Malone Road.

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