Belfast Telegraph

Pub firm Wine Inns raises a glass to narrowed losses

BY John Mulgrew

Wine Inns, which owns a string of Belfast pubs including The Empire, the Alibi club and The Chelsea, has reduced its pre-tax losses to £300,000 for the year, after it was in the red to the tune of almost £1m.

The company posted almost like-for-like turnover of more than £14m for the year ending December 31, 2014.

And it cut its losses on ordinary activities before tax to £300,000 - down from £980,000 a year earlier.

That narrowing was down to write-downs on the value of some of its properties.

The company "experienced a challenging year in difficult economic conditions", according to the strategic report in its latest set of annual accounts.

"While the directors expect a difficult trading year ahead, they will continue to seek every opportunity to increase turnover and profitability where possible," the report read.

Staff numbers across the firm's bars and clubs also fell during the past year.

The total number of workers slipped to 207 from 226 for the reporting period.

The business's overall parent company, Golf Holdings Ltd, meanwhile, posted operating profits before tax of more than £400,000.

It employs 49 staff in administrative roles.

The business also operates off-licence chain Winemark.

There are a number of other companies in the group, including Wine Merchants Ltd, Regency Hotel Ltd and James E McCabe Ltd.

Wine Inns' other Belfast bars include The Eglantine on the Malone Road and Robinsons in the city centre, across the road from the Europa Hotel.

Earlier this year, the firm sold the Crescent Townhouse on Botanic Avenue for a figure in excess of £1m.

And the business also let go of Wine & Co in Holywood last year. It is was renamed Johnny the Jig following its purchase by private investors.

The venue was on sale through agents Osborne King.

The deal was thought to be agreed for close to the £500,000 asking price.

Wine Inns' results come amid challenging times for the pub and club industry, according to economist John Simpson.

"We are in a period when the trend for many of the inner urban pubs is of declining profits," he said.

"Things are shifting more to out of town, as well as home drinking and restaurants."

Belfast Telegraph