Belfast Telegraph

NI chain Winemark posts £563k profit after 'challenging' year in 2016

By Margaret Canning

Northern Ireland off-licence chain Winemark, which has 84 stores, has reported a 14% jump in pre-tax profits to nearly £563,000.

Sales also grew slightly to reach £19.7m from £19.1m the year before, though the company's annual accounts for 2016 also caution that it had endured a challenging year.

Winemark the Winemerchants Ltd, which has Patrick Hunt as its director, is part of Golf Holdings, which also operates pubs and restaurants in Belfast through Wine Inns. Winemark employs 254 people.

A strategic report accompanying the results for 2016 said: "The company experienced a challenging year in difficult economic conditions. While the directors expect a difficult trading year ahead, they will continue to seek every opportunity to increase turnover and profitability where possible."

It said uncertainties faced by the company were "the risk posed by competition from other licensed premises, the risk of a downturn in the local economy, including consumer confidence, and the risk of not retaining key employees".

But the report added that it carried out regular strategic reviews "including assessments of competitor activity, market trends and consumer behaviour".

Last month Wine Inns reopened the King's Head on Belfast's Lisburn Road as The Doyen. The hospitality group has invested £4.2m in the site with the creation of 80 jobs. It acquired the venue - well-known as part of the former Botanic Inns portfolio - last year for around £2.2m. Wine Inns also owns Belfast venues The Empire, The Alibi and The Chelsea.

The King's Head, along with The Botanic Inn and Madison's Hotel - all former Botanic Inns Ltd pubs - were put on sale in 2015 by receiver Tom Keenan of Keenan Corporate Finance, appointed by Nama.

The freehold of the pubs had been held by two developers in the Republic whose loans were absorbed by Nama.

Belfast Telegraph

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