10 August 2023

While the hospitality sector continues to face a raft of challenges, a host of businesses and properties are now on the market and ready to be snapped up and revamped by new owners, says Mark Carron, director of Osborne King.

The hospitality industry has always been a tough sector to make money in – in both good times and bad.

But there remains significant demand from the public for strong restaurants, bars, hotels and cafes – businesses which showcase the best of the sector right across Northern Ireland.

“The hospitality sector is tough, but there are lots of family businesses out there which continue to grow and expand – it’s their bread and butter,” Mark Carron, director, Osborne King says.

“It’s all about watching the bottom line in terms of profitability. Utilities are a big overhead at the moment.

“While there are businesses closing, people still need to run businesses and people still want to go out and enjoy themselves. Belfast on a Friday and Saturday night is still very busy.

“The sector is tough, but generally it always is. People in the industry are well used to it.”

Mark focuses primarily on the hospitality sector, but also works across other areas like general agency, for example, along with Osborne King’s online auction business.

And there are significant hospitality businesses of all shapes and sizes now being marketed by the commercial property firm.

The French Rooms is a top-end, beautiful and quirky restaurant located in the heart of Bushmills – a village with considerable tourist credentials.

“This is a fully-fitted licensed premises,” Mark says. “It’s ready for someone to walk into to establish a food and beverage business. It’s a great location, being in Bushmills.”

“It also has six en-suite bedrooms with a very high-end finish. It would be a case of someone buying it, restocking and then making some amendments, and off you go.”

And Mark and the Osborne King team deal with a wide raft of hospitality businesses which are ready to go, as well as properties which would work well being converted for a specific use.

Also for sale is a former police station, also in Bushmills – a grade B1 listed two-storey building on Main Street which also comes with a small plot of land, to the rear, which overlooks the new £37m distillery at Bushmills.

In the small village of Lisbane, the Old Post Office has also now gone on sale.

“This is a lovely listed building which has a beautiful thatched roof,” Mark says. “It also has car parking on site and is focused on food and drink.

“The current owner has recently introduced a restaurant and it also includes a shop where you can buy gifts, for example. He has had it for over six years and is now moving on.”

The business also has planning permission for a six-bedroom development as part of the overall site.

The single storey property sits on a generous site, fronting onto the Killinchy Road within the village of Lisbane. It was sensitively restored and extended around 20 years ago and includes a 90-seater restaurant along with additional seating in the central courtyard and 30 outside seats located at the front entrance, perfect for weddings or other events.

For those trying to attract the tourists and golfers, the Springhill Bar in Portrush is now on the market and likely to attract significant attention due to its location on the popular north coast and just a short distance away from the beach and attractions.

“That’s a retirement sale which includes a residential dwelling as well as bar and off sales,” Mark says.

“There is interest in that property. Portrush is popular and I don’t think it’s an area which is oversatured with food and beverage offerings.” 

Elsewhere, those after a quaint restaurant out of town could turn their attention to Laragh Lodge.

It’s a licensed restaurant in Glenariff, an area of outstanding beauty, which provides over 100 covers.

It also includes a scenic beer garden and separate pergoda area overlooking the forest and waterfall, along with ample car parking.

“It’s an interesting business for sale in the forest,” Mark says. “It’s another business which is on sale due to retirement and the restaurant is open and active.”

And the firm’s auction business continues to grow and expand through its move to online auctions in 2018.

Mark says properties sold at the iOK Online can include commercial buildings, residential land, farms and hospitality properties.

“The advantage of selling through auction is getting the legally-binding signed contract on the sale day,” Mark says.

“Whatever we sell on the day of the auction, we are in contract that day. In other cases you could put your property on sale, you get your viewers and offers, it’s then getting to the stage where you get your contract signed – that takes longer. It’s an efficient and effective way of selling.”

And all relevant documents can be accessed completely online, making the process as simple and as streamlined as possible for potential buyers.

“Auctions are good way of speeding up the sales process,” Mark says. “We will market the properties for four weeks before the auction day itself and on the day, whatever we sell, we sign the contracts and will complete within 20 working days. The process is just eight weeks.”

Article published in the Belfast Telegraph and Ulster Business Top 100 Magazine:

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