Economic Impact of the Wild Atlantic Way revealed

Economic Impact Of 10 Years Of The Wild Atlantic Way Revealed At Meitheal

 

Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin and Fáilte Ireland, in conjunction with Tourism Ireland, mark the 10th anniversary of the Wild Atlantic Way today at Meitheal, the largest and most important trade event for the Irish tourism industry. 

 

The Wild Atlantic Way, the hugely successful tourism brand developed by Fáilte Ireland in response to the global financial crash, was launched to the tourism industry at Meitheal in 2014, and over the last decade has become a globally recognised tourism brand and has provided an economic engine for the west of Ireland. 

 

Meitheal

According to a new report launched today, nearly 2 million more visitors visited the Wild Atlantic Way in 2023 compared with 2013. Tourism is now worth €3billion per year on the Wild Atlantic Way, an increase of 59% on 2013, and this growth has contributed to the creation of an additional 35,000 jobs, with tourism now supporting 121,000 jobs across the region.

 

Speaking at Meitheal, Catherine Martin TD, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, said: “This year, Meitheal is particularly special as we mark the 10th anniversary of the Wild Atlantic Way. Ten years ago, a vision for the future of tourism in Ireland was launched, a route that stretched for 2,500 kilometres along our rugged Atlantic Coast. This is now a household name and cements Ireland’s reputation as a must-visit tourism destination, and I commend Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland on their work in driving this success over the last 10 years.” 

 

“For a small island, we have a huge amount to offer from world-class scenery, hospitality, activities, attractions, culture, heritage, and food. It is fantastic to see so many businesses at Meitheal this year to showcase the richness of our tourism offering to these international buyers and tour operators.”

 

Speaking about the impact of the Wild Atlantic Way and developing a future pipeline of tourism business, Paul Kelly, CEO of Fáilte Ireland, said:  “We are proud to mark the 10th anniversary of the Wild Atlantic Way at Meitheal this year and reflect on a brand that has had a truly transformative impact on the economy of the west coast. The Wild Atlantic Way generates employment and revenue for businesses and communities from Malin Head to Kinsale, and continues to be a key motivator for domestic and international visitors. 

 

Tourism is now worth €3billion per year to the region.  This growth has contributed to the creation of an additional 35,000 jobs in local communities, with tourism now supporting 121,000 jobs across the region.  Domestically, the Wild Atlantic Way is our most popular region with 51% of all domestic tourism revenue being generated there.  

 

When we compare this internationally, based on the most recent data available, we see that inbound travel to Ireland grew by 45% between 2013 and 2019, well above the Northern European average of 25%. And the Wild Atlantic Way was a key contributor to this success with overseas visitor bednights in the region growing by 60% across this period.

 

Fáilte Ireland has invested significantly in the tourism product on the Wild Atlantic Way over the last decade, supporting the industry to create a truly unique offering that inspires visitors to stay longer and spend more. It is all the more special to celebrate this occasion at Meitheal, where the brand was originally launched to the tourism industry ten years ago. The international buyers at Meitheal this week will experience first-hand the depth, breadth, and quality of the Irish tourism product, both on the Wild Atlantic Way and our other regional brands – Ireland’s Ancient East, Dublin and Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, and I have no doubt they will leave Meitheal 2024 with many new additions to itineraries and countless reasons to sell Ireland to their clients.”

 

Alice Mansergh, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “The landscape and culture go back millennia, yet it’s 10 years since the Wild Atlantic Way was launched as a route, with credit due to our partners in Fáilte Ireland, local government and communities. At Tourism Ireland, we’ve loved making the Wild Atlantic Way famous overseas! We captured behind-the-scenes interviews with the stars of Normal People, Banshees of Inisherin and Star Wars, as they filmed along the route, inspiring screen tourism. Tourism Ireland has co-produced 22 food and travel focused TV shows highlighting the Wild Atlantic Way, reaching 450 million in viewership around the world, with hosts like Donal Skehan and John Torode. Bringing journalists to experience the scenery, heritage and culture along the route has led to coverage in publications like The Guardian, The New York Times and National Geographic, adding up over the years to an ‘equivalent advertising value’ of over 1 billion euros. As we mark 10 years, we’ll be showcasing what the Wild Atlantic Way has to offer across 14 markets around the world, through a mix of TV, digital and social channels. We invite everyone to get involved in this special birthday, sharing their favourite photos of the route to wish ‘Happy 10th Birthday to Ireland’s #WildAtlanticWay’.”

 

Meitheal, which has been running since 1975 gets underway today at the Gleneagle INEC in Killarney, Co.Kerry, will see over 380 Irish tourism partners pitch to 241 international buyers and tour operators from around the world. Throughout this week, international buyers have been experiencing first-hand the tourism product of Ireland ahead of attending Meitheal. Tourism experiences from across Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East, and Dublin, were included on bespoke itineraries designed by Fáilte Ireland with the objective of showcasing the best of the Irish tourism offering and showcasing the unique holiday experience that awaits visitors to Ireland.

MTU food & hospitality programme for students with Down Syndrome

Innovative food & hospitality programme for students with Down Syndrome at MTU

Simon Coveney T.D. presented awards at a graduation ceremony at MTU’s Department of Tourism & Hospitality on Friday, 12th April, where the first group of students with Down Syndrome in Ireland, along with MTU’s BA (Hons) Home Economics and Business students, will be recognised together for their participation in a very unique pilot programme.

 

This remarkable pilot programme, which commenced in January of this year, came about when Team Up, a Cork-based organisation that works to facilitate inclusion in society for persons with Down Syndrome, approached Dr Noel Murray, Head of Department, Tourism & Hospitality, MTU, with a proposal for a “Team Up for Home Economics and Business Pilot Programme”.

 

Using the proven “buddy system” principles employed in several other Team UP community-based initiatives, this hands-on academic collaboration saw members of the local community with Down Syndrome pairing up with 2nd year Home Economics and Business students, on an eight-week pilot programme.

 

Dr. Murray, having a background himself as a Learning Support Coordinator in a previous professional role, immediately came on board putting forward his department as a fully-committed co-partner on the project. Dr. Murray recognised from the outset that this pilot was a very unique and dynamic opportunity to implement two-way learning, of equal value and relevance to both MTU students and community students alike.

 

The majority of the students within the Home Economics and Business course plan to go on and become Home Economics secondary school teachers, of which there is currently a great shortage in Ireland, most especially those who have specific special education needs (SEN) experience. Given that up to a quarter of students in any secondary school classroom today have some type of additional need, Dr. Murray saw the value of this initiative for all students involved, most especially those preparing for a career as an educator.

 

Dr. Murray said, “I am delighted to see the success of the ‘Team Up for Home Economics MTU Pilot Programme’, which has had an incredible impact on the community participants, by providing a pathway for a positive University learning experience. This has been dovetailed with an equally positive experience for our BA (Hons) in Home Economics & Business students, who have had the opportunity to apply their pedagogical skills and knowledge, while simultaneously gaining valuable experience in supporting adults with special needs. At MTU our mantra is ‘Succeeding Together’, and this programme epitomises this ambition.”

 

Maggie Cusack, President of Munster Technological University, remarked, “The societal impact of this programme is significant. Through hands-on experiences we gain confidence and break down stereotypes. Such confidence cannot be attained through books or lectures alone. I’d like to congratulate all the students on their achievement today and wish them the very best in their futures. I hope the skills and values they have learned as part of this unique programme will be of great benefit for many years to come.”

 

Simon Coveney TD said, ‘’It is an honour for me to be asked to present these awards to a very deserving and hard-working group of students. This programme is commendable and huge credit is due to the participating students and the staff at MTU for their dedication. I want to make a special mention for Team Up – for their vision in delivering an idea that shows these students even more of their potential and opportunities ahead’’.

 

Alison Nolan, Chairperson of Down Syndrome Cork, shared her thoughts, stating, “I am absolutely delighted to celebrate the success of the ‘Team Up for Home Economics Pilot Programme. This ground-breaking initiative fostered social inclusion and skill development by bringing together our students with their mainstream peers from MTU. It created a unique learning environment that extended beyond the classroom. Students gained valuable Home Economics skills while also having the cherished opportunity to sit down together after class, share a meal, and build meaningful connections. These interactions, often limited after second level education, provided a vital space for our community to learn, socialize, and create a more inclusive future for all. We look forward to building on the programme’s success in the future.”

 

Therese McNamee, Founder of Team Up, expressed her gratitude, “It was an absolute honour and a privilege to get to know so many fantastic students, both community-based and from MTU. I was incredibly impressed by their enthusiasm, courage, and commitment to the pilot. A massive thank you to Breda O’Mahony, MTU’s Home Economics Lecturer, who also threw herself behind this pilot programme and embraced the adventure without the slightest hesitation.”

 

The main goal of the pilot was to establish if a Team Up approach would prove to be mutually beneficial in a third level teaching environment. “I felt confident the pilot would prove to be a positive experience for the community students, and it most certainly was, but I have to admit I was surprised and delighted at the extent to which the MTU students not only engaged with the pilot but how much they actually enjoyed it, reporting they had found it to be a fantastic learning opportunity.”   She also remarked, “The warm reception we received from all staff, including the staff at both MTU’s Access Centre, Students Union and MTU’s café, The Bistro, was truly heartening.”

 

One of the community students with Down Syndrome, Sean McMahon, shared his experience, stating, “I feel happy doing Home Economics.” He expressed his enjoyment of being at MTU, particularly enjoying cooking in the kitchen and sharing a meal afterward with the group.  According to Therese McNamee “one of the hidden jewels of this programme was the casual after class opportunity for MTU students & community students to sit, eat   discuss a recent shared experience, building friendships and fostering true inclusion”.

 

The graduation ceremony serves as a testament to the success and impact of this pioneering collaboration, underscoring the transformative power of inclusive education initiatives. Simon Coveney TD’s participation further highlights the government’s commitment to fostering inclusivity and recognising the achievements of all students, regardless of background or ability.

Heineken To Increase The Price Of A Pint

Heineken has told publicans that it plans to increase the price of a pint for its draught products, RTÉ reported this week. About 6c per pint will be added across the company’s products, due to take effect on 4 June. The products impacted include Heineken, Heineken 0.0, Coors, Tiger, Birra Moretti, Murphy’s and Orchard Thieves.

 

However, costs could reach as much as 20-30c extra for customers, once all related expenses are factored in, according to a pub trade source.

 

‘A Critical Hit’

The news comes after Diageo raised the price of a pint of Guinness – also by 6c – on Monday. The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) described Diageo’s increase as ‘a hammer blow’ to the industry when it was announced in March. “The announcement by Diageo is not just disappointing, it’s a critical hit to an industry on the brink,” said Pat Crotty, the chief executive of the VFI.

 

“Publicans have been navigating a storm of rising costs, including the increase in minimum wage, additional mandatory sick days, and the impending pension auto-enrolment scheme.

“This latest price hike is a blow they can’t afford.”

 

‘Impossible To Absorb The Increased Costs’

In a statement, Heineken noted, ‘Due to continued increases in underlying costs we need to adjust our pricing on our draught products.

‘A list price increase of 3% (6c per print) will apply to our draught product range and will come into effect on 4 June 2024.

 

‘Despite our ongoing efforts to increase productivity and reduce costs, it is impossible for us to absorb all the increased costs that we have been faced with, and therefore we need to adjust our pricing.’

 

The VFI asked the public to support local publicans and understand the challenges facing the industry.

 

Crotty added, “We know our customers are in the middle of their own cost-of-living crisis, so the last thing our members want to do is increase prices.

 

“Unfortunately, most publicans will have to pass on this increase, as it’s all but impossible to absorb, given the rise in labour costs and other soaring charges,” he said.

 

Fáilte Ireland Employer Excellence Awards

Fáilte Ireland’s Employer Excellence Awards took place last week in the Lyrath Estate Hotel in Kilkenny. This is the second year of the award ceremony. The awards celebrate businesses who have demonstrated commitment to making the tourism industry an appealing and rewarding place to work through their participation in Fáilte Ireland’s Employer Excellence programme. O’Callaghan Coaches from Co. Kerry received the Outstanding Employer Award.

 

‘Best-In-Class’

“A key element of Fáilte Ireland’s Employer Excellence programme is putting the views of tourism employees front and centre and tonight’s winning businesses have all been chosen based on employee feedback,” said Jenny De Saulles, Fáilte Ireland’s director of sector development.

 

“Over 27,000 tourism employees have already been engaged and positively impacted by this initiative. So, it’s fantastic to gather together to showcase the best-in-class examples of employers along with those professionals who are thriving in the tourism industry.”

 

Unique Benefits

The Employer Excellence Programme was developed by Fáilte Ireland to continuously build quality workplaces that offer appealing and rewarding careers where employees can develop and progress. In two years, considerable progress has been made with 64% of employees saying they enjoy the unique benefits of their role and over 70% recognising improved employee communication and involvement.

 

Over 260 tourism businesses are currently participating in the Fáilte Ireland programme which launched in September 2022.

 

Employee Engagement

As part of the programme, a survey was conducted with staff of participating businesses, which gave staff the chance to highlight the strengths of their workplace, along with areas for further development. Fáilte Ireland is now supporting these businesses to implement actions identified in their survey to further enhance employee engagement.

 

The winning businesses were chosen based on this employee feedback as well as completion of the dedicated management training programme.

 

Winners

The 14 winning businesses announced on the night were:

Outstanding Employer: O’Callaghan Coaches, Kerry
Best Employer – Wild Atlantic Way: Sandhouse Hotel, Donegal
Best Employer – Ireland’s Ancient East: Goldie Fish and Ale
Best Employer – Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands: Ballyhass Adventure Park, Cork
Best Employer – Dublin: DoDublin, Dublin
Best Employer – Large Business: Trump International, Clare
Best Employer – Medium Business: Aspect Hotel Parkwest, Dublin
Best Employer – Small Business: Smithwick’s Experience Kilkenny, Kilkenny
Best Employer – Attraction: GPO Museum, Dublin
Best Employer – Food and Drink: Elbow Lane Brew and Smoke House, Cork

Best Employer – Hotel Group: PREM Group, National
Best Employer – Golf: Carne Golf Links, Mayo
Best Employer – Adventure: Vagabond Tours, Wicklow
Best Employer – Tour Operator/DMC: Odyssey International, Dublin

 

‘Positive Impact’

“The Fáilte Ireland Employer Excellence Awards are a celebration of the businesses who have set the industry standard for employee engagement and workplace culture in the tourism sector,” said Paul Kelly, Fáilte Ireland CEO.

 

“According to our latest labour market research, this positive impact can already be seen as 88% of employees in the sector now view tourism as a long-term career option, an increase of 17% on the previous year.”

MHL Hotel Collection To Open Its First Belfast Hotel

The MHL Hotel Collection has announced the signing of a contract with May Street Capital to acquire the former Park Inn by Radisson Hotel in Belfast. This purchase will bring its total number of hotels on the island to 14. This purchase is the Collection’s first acquisition outside the Republic of Ireland, and its first hotel in Northern Ireland’s capital city.

 

‘Major Refurbishment’

“We are very pleased and excited to have signed contracts to acquire our first hotel in Belfast and are planning to invest over €8 million on a major refurbishment that will transform the hotel,” said Paul Higgins, partner at MHL Hotel Collection. “We have seen how much guests love our fun and contemporary Moxy Dublin City Hotel, and we look forward to bringing the Moxy brand to the heart of Belfast.”

 

Moxy By Marriott

The acquisition is expected to complete before the end of this year. Following a planned €8 million refurbishment programme, the hotel will re-open in the first half of 2025. The team said discussions are already at an advanced stage to brand the hotel as a Moxy by Marriott. This would make it the fourth hotel owned and operated by MHL Hotel Collection under a franchise agreement from Marriott International and would become the second Moxy by Marriott within the collection.

 

Cathedral Quarter

The hotel at the Clarence West building has 145 bedrooms and is within walking distance of Belfast City Hall, Ulster Hall and Victoria Square Shopping Centre as well as the restaurants, bars and nightlife that the Cathedral Quarter has to offer. “We also look forward to engaging with local businesses and organisations in the region so we are best placed to support the local economy and hospitality sector, not least by creating up to 60 full and part time roles,” said Higgins.

 

The Deal

MHL were advised by Arthur Cox and Deloitte. May Street Capital were advised by MMW, Grant Thronton and ASM. The deal was brokered by JLL Dublin.

Tourism And Hospitality Enterprises Could See €1.4bn Increase In Payroll Costs Up To 2026

A new report published by the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) has warned that government labour policy will add €1.4 billion to payroll costs of tourism and hospitality enterprises between now and 2026. ITIC has said that mitigation measures are urgently needed to ensure the competitiveness and viability of Ireland’s largest indigenous industry and biggest regional employer.

 

‘Tipping Point’

“With St Patrick’s weekend behind us we’re now into the tourism season proper and it is clear that the industry is at a tipping point,” said Elaina Fitzgerald Kane, Chair of ITIC. “North America looks strong but other source markets are soft and there is an enormous cost burden being imposed on businesses which is threatening the viability of many”.

 

‘Significant Pressure’

Economist Jim Power has published a report for ITIC entitled ‘An Analysis of Government-induced costs on tourism and hospitality enterprises‘ and it argues that labour market measures including the move to a living wage, PRSI increases, pension auto-enrolment, and enhanced statutory sick pay are all adding ‘significant pressure’ on the sector and will add 6.6% to payroll costs this year alone and 19.4% by 2026.

 

The report argues for the restoration of the 9% VAT rate for the sector, changes to employer PRSI rates, and an annual enterprise support package.

 

Dublin Airport Cap

Meanwhile, Eoghan O’Mara Walsh, CEO of ITIC, warned that the cap at Dublin Airport meant that future tourism numbers were “jeopardised.” He also criticised the state’s “over-reliance” on the hotel sector for humanitarian purposes.

 

‘Hugely Destabilising Effect’

“Over 20% of all tourism beds nationally have been taken out of the tourism economy at this stage by the Government. That is having a hugely destabilising effect,” said Eoghan O’Mara Walsh.

“We are calling on Government to urgently develop an alternative plan to house Ukrainian refugees and international asylum seekers otherwise this summer there will be tourism towns the length and breadth of the country without an adequate supply of tourism beds and therefore with very little tourism activity.”

Some 70% Of Irish Restaurants Saw A Decline In Profitability In 2023

Only 14% of Irish restaurants managed to increase profitability in 2023, compared to the 70% that saw a decline – the highest proportion of any tourism sector to announce this, according to Fáilte Ireland. The Fáilte Ireland Tourism Barometer showed that 42% of restaurants were up on customers in 2023, compared to 2022, and 38% were down.

 

The research shows that the food-and-drink sector is affected particularly adversely, with 80% of respondents citing ‘rising payroll costs’, 74% citing ‘rising costs besides energy or payroll’, and 71% citing ‘rising energy costs’ as concerns.

 

‘Urgent Message’

Last month, Paul Lenehan, president of the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI), released an “urgent message” to the government, encouraging it to do the “right thing” for local restaurants and cafes.

 

“The rising costs we are incurring through wage inflation, food costs, [and] energy costs are out of control, and everything, including the 4.5% added to the VAT rate in the last Budget, has made our businesses completely unviable,” said Lenehan. “Our cash flow is at an all-time low. Our VAT returns made only for November and December have proved that to everybody. Our businesses are simply not viable.”

 

Pubs And Bars

Meanwhile, 50% of pubs and bars were up on customers in 2023. This compares to the 31% reporting trade to be down, according to the Tourism Barometer.

 

However, profitability in 2023 was the other way round, with 37% reporting it to be up, but 46% noted that it was down.

 

The research shows that 25% of pubs and bars expect customer numbers to be up this year, but 44% noted that they are facing a decline.

 

‘Election Year’

Earlier this month, the Licensed Vintners’ Association (LVA) announced plans to make the restoration of the 9% VAT rate for food an issue in the run-up to the local and European elections this summer.

 

“We hope this will help focus minds and that the government will take action on the VAT rate before more food-led businesses go to the wall,” said Donall O’Keeffe, CEO of the LVA. “The industry is crying out for this issue to be addressed, and the politicians would be wise to reflect on that matter in an election year, and with a general election also on the horizon.”

Ireland To Host Global Incentive Travel Sales Platform

Ireland will play host to the first ever IRELAND X-Change in the coming days, a global incentive travel sales platform, which will bring together up to 100 of the top North American business event planners and global incentive suppliers for a week of one-to-one business meetings and networking.

 

The regions of Kerry and Dublin will be showcased as diverse and green destinations for world-class incentive programmes. Fáilte Ireland, in collaboration with Tourism Ireland, won the bid to host the sales platform, which runs from April 8-13.

 

‘Future Opportunities’

“This event, which is proudly supported by Fáilte Ireland, is the perfect platform for this community of incentive professionals to meet, network and share industry insights,” said Paul Mockler, Fáilte Ireland’s head of commercial development.

 

“Importantly it will also help establish and maintain relationships between global business event planners and Irish tourism suppliers, which will no doubt result in future opportunities for international incentive programmes to come to Ireland.”

 

Incentive Travel

Incentive travel is defined as a once in a lifetime travel experience used by organisations to motivate, incentivise, and reward top preforming employees.

 

Business event visitors are estimated to be worth 2-3 times the value of leisure visitors.

 

IRELAND X-Change

By hosting IRELAND X-Change, Kerry and Dublin will be showcased as world-leading incentive destinations, and business event planners will experience a bespoke once in a lifetime programme including Killarney National Park, Muckross Traditional Farms, before heading to Dublin for Windmill Lane Studios and the Guinness Storehouse.

 

Fáilte Ireland in partnership with Tourism Ireland, will host ten of the top North American business event planners on a familiarisation trip prior to IRELAND X-Change, where they will get to see even more of the country. This will include exploring Ireland’s Ancient East, with an incentive programme showcasing Wicklow, Kilkenny, and Tipperary, before concluding in Kerry.

 

‘Emerald Isle’

“We very much welcome the opportunity to increase awareness of Ireland among these influential business event planners, ensuring the Emerald Isle is kept top of mind and is considered as a host destination for incentive travel programmes for future years,” said David Boyce, head of business events at Tourism Ireland.

 

“Hosting this conference will help Ireland to secure a greater share of the worldwide incentive travel market, which as a segment generates annual spend of more than $78 billion (€72 billion), and its regional spread and seasonality makes it a perfect target for a destination like Ireland.”

The O’Donoghue Ring Collection Awarded For Sustainability

The O’Donoghue Ring Collection has announced that three of its hotels in Killarney have achieved a Green Hospitality Eco-Certification.

 

Killarney Towers Hotel & Leisure Centre, Killarney Avenue Hotel, and Killarney Plaza Hotel & Spa have each been recognised for making positive strides towards a more sustainable future with their commitment to environmental stewardship and responsible business practices.

 

‘Milestone Step’

“The Green Hospitality Eco-Certification across these three hotels is a milestone step for our group on our environmental journey,” said Brian Lawlor, group general manager at the O’Donoghue Ring Collection “Since 2020, the O’Donoghue Ring Collection has taken a property-by-property approach to minimise environmental impacts or our properties.”

 

Global Award

The Green Hospitality Awards is an internationally recognised third-party environmental & sustainability certification awards programme. It requires businesses to implement an Environmental Management System focusing on energy, carbon, waste and water.

 

The O’Donoghue Ring Collection

Killarney Towers Hotel & Leisure Centre reduced energy consumption per sleeper by 22% compared to 2022, food waste per food cover by 67% compared to 2022, and water consumption per sleeper by 51% compared to 2022

 

Meanwhile, Killarney Avenue Hotel reduced energy consumption per sleeper by 12% compared to 2022, food waste per food cover by 69% compared to 2022, water consumption per sleeper by 36% compared to 2022.

 

Finally, Killarney Avenue Hotel reduced energy consumption per sleeper by 12% compared to 2022, food waste per food cover by 69% compared to 2022, and water consumption per sleeper by 36% compared to 2022.

 

‘Launching Pad’

“While we celebrate these fantastic achievements, we also recognise that our journey toward sustainability is ongoing. Our eco-certification serves as a launching pad for further innovations and improvements in environmental practices,” said Gemma Ring, managing director of the O’Donoghue Ring Collection.

 

“Together, with our partners and the communities we serve, we will continue to explore new opportunities to make a lasting, positive impact on our environment and society.”

Some 21 Pubs Changed Hands On The Dublin Market In 2023

The 2023 Dublin licensed-premises property market again witnessed a stable level of activity that was buoyed by good demand, resulting in a consistent volume of sales being completed throughout the year, according to a new report from Lisney Ireland. The report shows that 21 pubs changed hands, with a combined value in the order of €50 million. This compares to 24 transactions in 2022, realising a combined value of just over €53 million.

 

Dominant Purchaser Class

Almost 30% of sales completed realised sums north of €3 million, and publicans remained the dominant purchaser class, accounting for approximately 70% of all sales. Off-market transactions remained a feature of the market, accounting for almost one quarter of all sales completed, according to the report.

 

Supply

Supply remained consistent throughout 2023, with 76% of all sales completed coming from properties that were publicly offered for sale, compared to 43% in 2022. Lisney noted that supply was influenced by various factors. Certain offerings were retirement driven, others centred around business realignment, and some were debt and restructure related.

 

Core Demand

The report found that core demand in 2023 was again focused from within the industry, with publicans remaining the dominant purchaser class, accounting for 70% of the volume and 66% of the value thereof. Lisney noted that activity within this sector has increased, year on year, over the past three years, which illustrates continued operator confidence within the market.

 

Developer Activity

Investor demand also remained stable, although it accounted for a slightly lesser volume than it witnessed in 2022, realising 25% thereof and 33% of value. Developer activity reduced again, representing only 5% of volume and 1% of value, with appetite likely hampered by rising construction costs and planning delays.

 

Private Equity

The report indicates that private-equity purchasers remained active in sourcing specific opportunities within the upper tier of the market, however, they did not complete any transactions. When consideration is given to the asset classes targeted by private-equity purchasers, coupled with their specific criteria relating to profitability requirements and future business development potential, Lisney noted that it is clear that that are very few opportunities that meet their specific demands.

 

The estate agents believe that the scarcity of the opportunity pursued is a direct factor in their reduced activity within the past 24 months.

 

City Centre Premises

Lisney noted that appetite remained for well-located city centre premises, as illustrated by the sales of JW Sweetman’s, on Burgh Quay, the Barge, on Charlemont Street, the Bachelor Inn, on Bachelors Walk, the Fade Street Social investment, and Grand Social, on Lower Liffey Street.

 

The report shows that the suburban market continued to witness keen demand, with sales completed for large well-known and established premises, such as the Abbey Tavern, Howth, Mulligan’s, Sandymount, the Terenure Inn, Terenure, and McCloskey’s, Donnybrook.

 

Reversal Of Trend

While off-market activity continued to feature, the 2023 market was characterised by a dominance of transactions completed from public offerings, accounting for 76% of volume and 75% of total value. Lisney noted that this is a reversal of the trend witnessed in 2022, when off-market transactions accounted for 58% of volume and 69% of value.

 

‘Trading Challenges’

“Moving into 2024, appetite to acquire remains strong, however, trading challenges do remain. The recent increase in minimum wage, coupled with the VAT increase on food sales, will directly impact on bottom-line profit,” said Rory Browne, divisional director in Lisney’s licensed and leisure department. “We see publicans remaining as the dominant purchaser class, with developers possibly less active due to the rise in bill costs, coupled with difficulties in securing funding.

 

“Private equity we see remaining focused on the larger established cities, primarily targeting businesses that enjoy high volumes of trade with strong bottom-line profit.”

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