The company behind Copper Face Jacks night-club in Dublin last year paid out a dividend of €21.69 million to its owners, according to new accounts.
The dividend payout brings to €68.64 million that ‘Coppers’ firm, Breanagh Catering Ltd has paid out in dividends to a connected holding company, Breanagh Catering Holdings Unlimited, in the two years to January 31st 2020. The company is jointly owned by Cathal and Paula Jackson.
The company's lucrative night-club business has now been shut down for one year due to the Covid-19 pandemic which has shut down the entire night-club industry.
In a rare interview on Friday, Mr Jackson said that the last year “has been tough for everyone”.
Asked when ‘Coppers’ may re-open, Mr Jackson said: “The Covid-19 situation is evolving all the time. It could be September-October. It could be next year. I just don’t know. We are in the dark like everyone else. No one knows for certain.”
Mr Jackson confirmed that he will be taking a back seat in the business when it does eventually re-open.
Mr Jackson, who had a health scare in 2019, said: “I am flying again thanks be to God but I think my years on the door are over. I am semi-retired now.”
The former Garda said: “I have stood for the last 24-25 years on the front door myself - I believed being on the door of the business meeting customers as they came in.”
Son's interest in business
Mr Jackson - who turns 66 later this year - said that he is “thrilled” that his son Darren has expressed an interest in entering the business.
Born in Roscommon and raised in Laois, Mr Jackson said: “I am very lucky that Darren has decided to come in and that the business will continue for a few more years.”
On the appeal of 'Coppers', Mr Jackson said “it just seems to be a place for anyone to meet from all corners of Ireland”.
Living in Dublin since the mid-1970s, Mr Jackson said: “Country people love coming up to a place that they associate with a country disco and there is a Dublin following as well. The GAA along with soccer, rugby and all other sports has really helped with the longevity of Coppers.”
The new accounts show that pre-Covid, pre-tax profits at Breanagh had declined by 35.5% from €3.82 million to €2.46 million.
The drop in profit coincided with revenues declining by 12% from €13.23 million to €11.62 million in the 12 months to the end of January 31st 2020.
The move to pay out the dividends of €46.9 million in 2019 and €21.69 million last year has depleted the company's cash reserves from €63.7 million in January 2018 to €919,070 at the end of last January 2020.
During the same period, Brenagh’s accumulated profits have reduced from €75.46 million to €12.18 million due to the dividend pay-out.
In their directors’ report, Cathal and Paula Jackson state that the result for the year to the end of January 2020 were considered satisfactory.
On the impact of Covid-19, they state that “recent developments of Covid-19 provide an uncertain outcome”.
They state that they continue to focus on cashflow and managing costs allowing them to be satisfied that they have mitigated the risk associated with Covid-19 to the maximum extent possible at this time.
Not for sale
Mr Jackson set up Copper Face Jacks in February 1996 and he put the business up for sale in March 2019 with industry sources at the time speculating the business might realise €40 million.
However, staff were told in a company memo in November 2019 that the business was no longer for sale as Mr Jackson “has decided to stay actively involved in the business”.
The memo stated that the decision to put the nightclub up for sale was made “reluctantly”.
Numbers employed by Breanagh at the end of January 2020 show that 173 were employed as staff costs totalled €3.99 million.
A breakdown of revenues show that €10 million was generated in night-club and bar sales with €1.5 million in accommodation sales.