Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Off-licence six pack is sold off for £950k

WineFlair welcomes opportunity to expand after leaseholds deal

Andrea Carson, sales and marketing manager of WineFlair, with managing director Alan McGuinness and Martin McLean, senior business manager at Bank of Ireland
Andrea Carson, sales and marketing manager of WineFlair, with managing director Alan McGuinness and Martin McLean, senior business manager at Bank of Ireland

A string of off-licences has been sold by a firm which was once one of Northern Ireland's wealthiest property and trading groups.

PBN Wineworld – part of PBN Holdings – has off-loaded six properties in Belfast and Co Down.

While the deal marks a contraction by PBN, it is a big expansion for Northern Ireland business WineFlair, which is understood to have paid around £950,000 for the six leasehold premises.

PBN spent £99m in 2007 and 2008 acquiring assets like the Savoy Centre in Glasgow and West One Retail Park in Salford but from 2009 it has suffered as a result of falling property values.

However, losses did fall from £9.9m in 2009 to £3.75m in 2011.

The off-licences which have been disposed of are at Railway Street in Lisburn, Finaghy Road South in Belfast, Amelia Street in Belfast, Green Road in Conlig, Bangor, as well as Balloo Road and Clandeboye Road in the seaside town.

Andrea Carson, sales and marketing manager at WineFlair, said: "The stores are very good stores that trade very well and were well managed over the last couple of years.

"We can see great potential in them as we start looking at them and running them similarly to our existing WineFlair stores."

She said tastes had changed in the recession with customers sometimes trading down from higher-end brands, or purchasing less often.

"It's a difficult market but one that we feel we are trading well in at the moment. We just try to make sure we have good offers, good value and good customer service and use our chilled offering to try and differentiate ourselves from the multiples.

"All WineFlairs have walk-in fridges offering chilled beer, cider, alcopops and white and rose wine. We also hope to differentiate through friendly customer service from staff who know their regular customers and offering promotions on smaller packs."

The purchase of the six stores was funded by Bank of Ireland. Martin McLean, the bank's senior business manager, said: "Bank of Ireland has helped support the growth of Wineflair for over 12 years.

"Wineflair approached us in the latter part of 2012 to seek assistance with the purchase of six additional off-licences under the brand of Wineworld.

"The bank was pleased to support this acquisition and viewed this as an opportunity for the company to grow its market share within Northern Ireland and to add additional income generating units to its expanding portfolio."

No-one from PBN was available for comment.

WineFlair has been running since 1970, when it was first set up with two off-licences in Carrick-fergus and Belfast. It now has 41 off-licences around Northern Ireland, including the latest acquisition.