Belfast Telegraph

Struggling Ulster pub chain goes into administration

By Clare Weir

A Northern Ireland pub chain has gone into administration just months after a sister property company was placed into receivership.

Castle Street Inns Ltd owned around six bars including the Brook Lodge Bar, Becketts and the Blackstaff as well as the Tony Romas restaurant franchise in the south of the city.

All businesses are still trading.

The company, based at Kennedy Way in west Belfast, was run by well-known publicans, the Hughes family and directors include John Hughes, Eugene Hughes, Perpetua Hughes and Annie Hughes.

Notice that KMPG had been appointed as administrators was served on February 3, 2011.

Many pubs and restaurants have been struggling to keep afloat since the financial downturn.

Colin Neil, chief executive of Pubs of Ulster has warned that Northern Ireland will lose between 100 and 150 pubs this year.

"During the three weeks before Christmas, the economic climate was very poor," he said.

"Normally these firms build up a cash flow to keep them going through the difficult, quiet times of January, February and March.

"This is very unfortunate news coming from a pub group that has been an integral part of the local community in Belfast and we hope that they can trade themselves out of this situation.

"With over 34,000 people employed in the industry, action needs to be taken by the Northern Ireland Assembly. A review of the policies that affect the licensed trade is urgently needed to protect and support the future of pubs and to prevent further closures."