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Merchant Hotel owner Beannchor welcomes large profits growth


Above: the Merchant Hotel

Above: the Merchant Hotel

The Bullitt Hotel in Belfast

The Bullitt Hotel in Belfast


Above: the Merchant Hotel

Northern Ireland hospitality giant Beannchor has tripled pre-tax profits to over £9m, according to its most recent results.

The group, which owns Belfast's five star Merchant Hotel and opened the Bullitt Hotel last year, also increased sales by 4% from £8.6m to £9m, according to results for holding company Beannchor No. 1 Ltd.

Separate results for the Merchant Hotel Ltd reveal a 0.3% fall in sales to £11.7m, while pre-tax profits were £3.16m, up from £1.27m.

Pre-tax profits for Beannchor No. 1 also soared from £2.5m in 2015 to £9m.

A change in its financing arrangements with lender Goldman Sachs led to the addition of £8.3m, helping increase its pre-tax profits.

The same change led to a £5.7m gain for Merchant Hotel Ltd.

Operating profits at Beannchor were down slightly from £3.36m in 2015 to £3.2m.

Group finance director James Sinton told the Belfast Telegraph: "The Beannchor team is pleased with the group's performance and remain optimistic about the year ahead despite the uncertainties over Brexit and our current political instability in Northern Ireland.

"Current and planned developments in Belfast will result in a significant increase in hotel beds, which is great for the city.

"We are hopeful that a continued rise in visitor demand will support this increased supply, but we will approach the next few years with caution in this regard."

A strategic report filed with the company's accounts said competition in the marketplace was "strong".

And the biggest risks facing the group included the competition from other licensed premises and the challenge to hold onto staff.

Looking to the present year, the strategic report added: "The external commercial environment is expected to remain competitive in 2016.

"Whilst the directors are anticipating a difficult trading year ahead, they will continue to seek every opportunity to increase turnover and operating profit where possible."

The report notes there were net operating expenses of £13m, while there was operating income of £1.2m drawn from £709,618 in supplier contributions, £445,777 in management fees and £19,764 in other income.

As well as the flagship Merchant Hotel, the company also owns and operates pubs including The National and the Dirty Onion, and the Little Wing pizzeria chain.

It also owns and leases out a large number of other pubs.

Staff numbers had fallen from 510 to 482 over the year.

Banking giant Goldman Sachs bought loans connected with Beannchor from Ulster Bank in 2014.

Belfast Telegraph