JD Wetherspoon remains bullish about Irish expansion plans

Despite all the current uncertainty surrounding the future of pubs, JD Wetherspoon is set to continue with its expansion plans in Ireland , according to the Irish Examiner.

In the last couple of years, Wetherspoon has rolled out openings across Ireland, and remains confident about the future of the pub trade in the Emerald Isle.

A spokesperson commented,“Wetherspoon certainly doesn’t believe it is the end of the pub as we know it, and is looking forward to reopening as and when the Government allows it to.'

They also said that the group is still keen to open many more pubs in the Republic, although openings and dates will need to be discussed in due course.

Founder and chairman Tim Martin announced ambitious plans for Ireland last year, aiming to reach 30 pubs over the next few years.

The expansion will be focused in and around Dublin with six pubs planned and one or two more set for Cork. The Linen Weaver in Cork is pictured.

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Wetherspoon's bullish over Irish expansion plans despite pub crisis
Wetherspoon's bullish over Irish expansion plans despite pub crisis
By Geoff Percival

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Thursday, May 07, 2020 - 05:59 PM

British pub group JD Wetherspoon has no intention of rowing back on ambitious expansion plans for its Irish operations, despite mounting concern for the future of the bar industry in Ireland due to the forced social interaction changes brought about by the Covid-19 crisis.

Many pubs across the country potentially face permanent closure due to the business impact of the virus, with many also doubtful about the viability of opening even with heavy service restrictions.

However, Wetherspoon - which has spread rapidly across the country in the last couple of years - remains bullish about the future prospects of the Irish pub trade.

“Wetherspoon certainly doesn’t believe it is the end of the pub as we know it and is looking forward to reopening as and when the government allows it to,” a Wetherspoon spokesperson said.

They added that the company is “still keen” to open “many more pubs” in the Republic, although openings and dates “will need to be discussed in due course”.

Late last year, Wetherspoon founder and chairman Tim Martin said the group has ambitious growth plans for its Irish division, with the ultimate target being to boost its pub numbers here to around 30 in the coming years.

A lot of that expansion will happen in and around Dublin, where Mr Martin sees there being room for around six more pubs, while Wetherspoon could open 'one or two' more in Cork also.

The company currently has either a live presence or development plans in Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Galway and Carlow and has seven pubs in operation.

In December, Wetherspoon said it would be investing €30m in boosting its Irish pub and hotel portfolio this year. Much of that spend is still planned, although timing may now change.

Irish construction sites reopen later this month and Wetherspoon’s largest project to date — an 89-bedroom hotel/superpub project on Dublin’s Camden Street – was due to open this summer and cost €20m alone.

Wetherspoon said last week that it was looking at a June date for some form of reopening of its pubs. The vast majority of its 900 or so premises are located in the UK.

The company also announced it was raising more than €160m in a share placing to cover working capital due to the virus fallout.