THE British group behind the O’Neill’s and All Bar One pub chains has become the latest pub chain looking to enter the Irish market.
Mitchells & Butlers is understood to be looking at six potential locations in Cork and Dublin.
It is thought that the company will initially focus on introducing its family-themed restaurant concept here, such as Harvester, Miller & Carter, and Toby Carvery, but that the opening of an All Bar One may also form part of its plans.
Mitchells & Butlers would not comment directly on the rumoured expansion into Ireland, saying only that they “continually monitors opportunities across a wide range of markets.”
The group counts Irish investors John Magnier and JP McManus among its shareholders
Over the past six months JD Wetherspoon and Greene King have both looked to expand into Ireland with JD Wetherspoon stating it could open between 30 and 50 pubs here over the coming decade, with the first arriving in April.
In its recent outlook report for the Irish retail property sector, real estate consultants Savills said UK pub chains are likely to be one of the most active players in the market this year.
On the back of that report, Savills’ retail divisional director, Bernadine Hogan, said that any influx of British pub owners — most of which are publicly quoted companies — would be a positive development and a show of strength for Ireland’s commercial property sector.