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Wed 21st Jan 2015 - Tim Martin – we’re bidding record amounts for Irish sites
Tim Martin – we’re bidding record amounts for Irish sites: JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin has told Propel that the company is bidding record amounts for Irish pub sites. Martin reported that the company has twice bid seven million euros for sites in Dublin – one a pub and one a development site – and failed to secure them. “Property prices in Ireland, especially around Dublin, seem to me to be higher than in England. We bid seven million euros for one site – and they never even returned our call. We’ve never bid that much in England.” Martin also indicated the cost of Camden Hall Hostel in Dublin, acquired in December, cost a similar amount. The Wetherspoon chairman also reported the company is serving two English stouts at its two Irish pubs – one produced by Marston’s and one by Bath Ales – although Beamish is on draught at one of the sites as well. “Our Irish customers regard (the English stout) as nectar from heaven at 2.50 euros a pint.” The company has reported slowing like-for-like sales, down to 2% in December and even lower this month. “I always say that slowing like-for-like sale is our customers’ way of telling us to improve,” Martin told Propel. Asked for his response to leisure analyst Douglas Jack’s suggestion that the company is now trapped by its discount model, he said: “I think history is against Douglas Jack. Apart from Fuller’s we’ve done better than anybody else in the past ten to 20 years. I don’t think he’s right – in fact, I think it’s the other way around. Others are trapped by their high price model.” Martin renewed his concerns about rising rental prices, driven by fast casual restaurant operators such as Jamie’s Italian. “In general, we tend to avoid leisure and retail scheme developments – if a scheme doesn’t take off you’re more exposed than in a traditional town centre with 20,000 residents.” 
Network Rail – Christmas saw record sales at our 18 stations with pubs and bars fourth best-performing category: Christmas retail trading in the five weeks to 27 November at Network Rail’s 18 managed stations was the busiest on record growing with overall sales up 15.8%, with like-for-like sales growing by 10.7%, according to figures released by the rail operator. Pubs and bars were the fourth best-performing category behind bread, retail services and clothing. This contrasts with the BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index, which recorded growth of only 2.6% for the 5-week period. The data indicates consumers’ appetites for convenience shopping and dining at travel hubs is growing, as their high street habits continue to change. Managing director of Network Rail Property, David Biggs, said the figures are a result of an increased focus on creating stations that are destinations, not just places to get from A to B. “Our strategy is to listen to our customers and put them at the heart of everything we do. We’re bringing retailers to our stations that give customers what they want in the time they have available and our results are showing this strategy is working. At Christmas time in particular, when people are balancing work and home life, our stations offer the right mix of retail options and food and beverage offers to complement the high street,” he said. London station King’s Cross was the best performing across the network with Christmas period sales growth of almost 50%. Stations outside of London also mirrored the festive trend with Glasgow and Birmingham growing by 26% and 22% respectively. Director of Retail – Network Rail Property, Hamish Kiernan, said the boom Christmas period added to a successful year for the station retail sector, highlighted by some significant top-line figures. “The numbers as a whole are staggering; almost 850 million people visited our stations in 2014 and of those people, over 34% chose to visit one of our retail units. That’s around 289 million people, a significant rise of over 13% compared to 2013. It’s a very positive time in the station retail sector and we have a number of plans and projects ready to create even better environments for our customers in 2015.”

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