Covid-hit publicans selling off pub licences for up to €50k

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Jimmy Woulfe

The Covid-19 crisis has prompted an increasing number of publicans to call time and cash in their licences which are fetching as much as €50,000, according to one Limerick auctioneer.Gordon Kearney of Rooney Auctioneers said there is now a ready market for pub licences which are being snapped up.

"All the big supermarket multiples who want to sell alcohol need a current pub licence and are on the look out for them," Mr Kearney said.

"You also have others wanting to open an off-licence. I know of six brokers who deal in the purchase and sale of pub licences.

"I would regularly be given a pub licence to sell and there is no problem getting a buyer either through clients I know or one of the brokers who are continually in contact trying to source pub licences."

He said those brokers would be the first line of contact for the big supermarket multiples and convenience stores, including petrol stations.

Mr Kearney said the price of a licence can fluctuate adding "a pub licence has a value of about €40,000 but can fetch up to €50,000 if there are a number of bidders who are looking for a licence urgently at the one time".

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The deregulation of pub licences about 20 years ago opened up the market as licences can be transferred for use anywhere in the state.

"A pub licence in Dublin before deregulation was worth as much as €600,000 as you could not transfer a licence from outside Dublin into the City," the Limerick auctioneer said.

Mr Kearney said: "We have seven pubs on our books, two in the city and five in the county. Potential buyers are looking for pubs which have kitchen and dining facilities. Outdoor seating is a prerequisite for many who are entering the market.

"One city pub we are selling, Squire McGuires in lower Cecil Street has a guide price of €500,000. A multi-storey building with offices and apartments is going up just across the street and this should be a big help to the trade of the pub which has a kitchen."

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