Belfast Telegraph

Company Snapshot: Seanachai Ltd

Seanachai raises bar for pub trade

By John Simpson

Seanachai is the holding company for the business activities of The Merchant Hotel and a large number of other investments in property and licensed public houses.

The consolidation of the Group activities was made possible by the registration of Seanachai in June 2008.

The main shareholders and directors are Bill Wolsey and other members of the Wolsey family.

This group of businesses has expanded in recent years both by acquisition of licensed pubs and particularly through an ambitious high-quality development of The Merchant Hotel in the building that formerly was the headquarters of the Ulster Bank in Waring Street.

The capital expenditure programme has been extensive. The balance sheet value of fixed assets increased by £15m in the two more recent years to reach nearly £39m. In the year to June 2010 the group spent £9.4m on additional fixed assets.

The continued and expanding business has been helped in part by financial facilities from the Ulster Bank.

Since the end of the financial year in June 2010, the Group is reported to have agreed to buy 15 further pubs, including the Hillside in Hillsborough, Lisbarnett House in Comber and the Esplanade in Bangor, for up to £10m. This is expected to mean that the group will have 50 pubs in its portfolio.

Direct employment, excluding employment in joint venture companies, has varied from year to year. In 2008, employment averaged 226 people but fell to 151 in 2009. In 2010 employment increased a little to 172 people.

Pre-tax profits (or losses) have been significantly influenced by annual net interest payments and, in part, by losses recorded from joint ventures in 2010.