29 Jun 2022

‘Perfect storm’ of factors sees more than 20 Donegal pubs for sale

Rising costs, staff shortages and the age profile of publicans are among the reasons for the large number of pubs on the market

Tipperary has 115 less pubs than thirteen year ago as numbers drop nationwide

More than 20 pubs are on the market across Donegal

What has been described as a perfect storm of factors has led to more than 20 pubs and restaurants in Donegal being made available for sale or lease.

Four pubs are for sale in Donegal Town alone and premises are also on the market in Ballybofey, Doochary, Bruckless, Fanad, Kilcar, Ballyshannon, Bunbeg and Derrybeg. A number of premises offering accommodation are also on the market.

Increased running costs - due to higher prices of electricity, oil and insurance - combined with staff shortages and the ending of Covid-19 business support, are some of the factors that have been blamed for business owners looking to leave the hospitality sector.   

Alice Lynch, chair of the Donegal branch of the Vinters Federation of Ireland (VFI), which has 168 members in the county, said a desire for a change in their work-life balance has also been a factor in persuading publicans to call it a day.

“Covid has changed so many things and I think people got more comfortable being at home and bar owners got more comfortable with a different lifestyle. Staffing appears to be a big concern everywhere and traditionally these were family businesses,” she said.

The age profile of many pub owners in the county is also a factor in some looking to get out of the industry, VFI Donegal branch treasurer Martin Harley said. The county councillor and publican said he is not surprised at the number of pubs for sale considering the issues facing the industry.

“It is probably one of the most regulated industries and a lot of older members  - they are not really up for all that regulation. And no one in the next generation wants it because they have seen what their parents have gone through.”

Chair of the Donegal Branch of the  Irish Hotels Federation, Paul Diver, said a “perfect storm” of factors had led to people wanting to get out of the hospitality sector.

Cuts in Government Covid-19 supports have put a lot of businesses under pressure, he said.

“The reality is that a lot of these places have been locked down for so long, have not had cash flow and have been relying on Government grants.

“A lot of places have not been refurbished for the last three years and are looking at having to spend a lot of money.

“Energy costs are just an absolute nightmare - costs have gone through the roof. If you can get staff, the costs have increased. It’s just like a perfect storm.”

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