Belfast Telegraph

Derry GAA legends buy Botanic Inns pubs

Exclusive By Margaret Canning

Two brothers from Co Londonderry are the new owners of seven sought-after licensed properties in Belfast including the Apartment and McHugh’s, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

Seamus and Henry Downey this week emerged as the winners in a bidding war as they offered over £4m for the pubs, which were owned by Kurkova Ltd and were part of the Botanic Inns portfolio.

It’s thought the men - who are both GAA heroes in their home county - offered £4.3m for the entire portfolio, which also includes the Kitchen Bar at Victoria Square, the Parador on Ormeau Road, Molly Brown’s in Newtownards and Ryan’s Bar on the Lisburn Road.

The Downeys also own the Sugar Club in Derry and Downey’s Bar in Magherafelt.

The Botanic Inns group — comprising Botanic Inns Ltd and Kurkova Ltd — went into administration earlier this year under the weight of debts of around £14m. Pubs in Botanic Inns Ltd were acquired by Horatio Group, including the Botanic Inn in south Belfast and the King’s Head, just a week after the administration in May.

Neither Seamus nor Henry Downey could be reached for comment this afternoon.  But John Martin, of selling agents Osborne King, said: “We had a lot of interest from the north and south of Ireland in these properties, together with the mainland, and we received a substantial number of offers on all the properties.

“Both [administrators] KPMG and Osborne King are pleased with the outcome, which has been delivered within less than three months.  
“It shows confidence is returning to the pub trade.”

Two of the remaining three bids had been put forward by Tennent’s NI, Fortuna Group - and the third was from unknown property investors advised by John Morgan of Panther Purchasing.

The Downeys are well-known in Derry for their GAA success.  Henry was captain and centre-back in Derry’s All-Ireland winning team in 1993, and Seamus was full-forward in the same team.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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