Belfast Telegraph

Bumper year predicted for leisure and hospitality

Northern Ireland's leisure and hospitality sector is set for a strong performance in 2011 despite tough economic conditions, a firm of commercial property agents has said.

O'Connor Kennedy Turtle said the sector would play "an ever greater part in rebuilding the local economy" in 2011.

The practice, which has offices in Belfast and Coleraine, made the prediction after a series of major transactions in the leisure sector.

Iain McCabe, partner at OKT, said that the sector "is showing great endurance and capacity to weather changes in the economy".

"Overall the level and range of transactions in the leisure and hospitality sector that we're seeing points to strong growth to come," he said.

"Operators across the spectrum simply wouldn't take on risks if there wasn't demand within the marketplace."

"There continues to be considerable interest in Northern Ireland via a range of leisure operators from across the UK and beyond. Overall recent transactions indicate to us that 2011 could be a strong year for the sector locally."

OKT have handled a range of transactions in the hospitality sector including the lettings of two new cinemas - the nine-screen Omniplex at Junction One Retail and Leisure Park in Antrim and the Omniplex complex in Larne - a £10m investment with the promise of 150 jobs.

The firm also helped secure the purchase of the former O'Neills Arms Hotel in Toome, now re-opened as a hotel, restaurant and nightclub, and the letting of 12,000 sq ft at St Anne's Square to 24-hour UK gym operator Pure Gym.