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Beannchor group continues to boom

Beannchor head, Bill Wolsey has plans for continued expansion in the Cathedral QuarterPUB and hospitality group Beannchor is set to buy a hotel in Co Antrim, adding another property to its portfolio of hotels, restaurants and pubs.

Adrian McLaughlin, general manager of the group’s Merchant Hotel, said the company had started running The Leighinmohr Hotel in Ballymena after its previous owners, MCL Investments, went into administration.

“We are now looking at the possibility of buying it,” he said.

“It was something that was not part of our strategy a year ago or six months ago, but we were offered it and we are managing it on behalf of the administrators.

“We fully intend to buy it. It’s a great opportunity. But it will remain as it is — a three star hotel in a beautiful residential area of Ballymena.”

He said running struggling hotels whose owners had been placed into administration was a possible line of business for Beannchor in the future.

The group last week revealed the progress of the £16m extension to the Merchant, which includes 38 new bedrooms, a jazz bar and a spa, to be fully completed in August.

Reception will be moved from Waring Street to Skipper Street round the corner, and Beannchor head Bill Wolsey confirmed the company was in talks with the Department of Regional Development about the possibility of pedestrianising the thoroughfare.

The company’s designs on the Cathedral Quarter have not stopped at The Merchant and nearby pub The Spaniard.

A cultural centre, including The Dirty Onion pub, is to open in the summer and work will start on a new four star hotel, The National, on High Street.

The 68-bedroomed hotel, in a listed building which formerly housed The National Bank, will aim for a four star rating.

Meanwhile, the group is fully absorbed in the extension. Mr Wolsey admitted times had changed since plans for the Merchant’s extension were conceived and that he was not as confident as he once had been about filling the 38 new rooms.

“When I originally decided to spend this amount of money I didn’t quite see this economic climate coming, so my confidence isn’t quite what it was.

“But we have a good product that’s competitively priced.”

Beannchor has also opened three pizzerias under the Little Wing brand in Belfast city centre as well as the east and south of the city.

Belfast Telegraph