Bidding blitz for five star Limerick city hotel

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

Ronan Branigan of the Savoy Hotel - understood to be one of the bidders to buy the Savoy hotel and is anxious that it remains in Limerick ownership
THE SALE has been agreed for Patrick Punch’s hotel in the city, while second round bids are ongoing for the five-star Savoy hotel.

THE SALE has been agreed for Patrick Punch’s hotel in the city, while second round bids are ongoing for the five-star Savoy hotel.

Gordon Kearney of Rooney auctioneers said the intention is that Patrick Punch’s will re-open as a hotel - and not as student accommodation - as previously mooted, while there are bids from local, national and international investors for the Savoy hotel and the surrounding development.

Mr Kearney said the sale of Punch’s hotel, which went on the market for €1.5m, will be formally concluded within the next 10 days, while there is currently no set timeline for the sale of Savoy.

Limerick city’s only five-star hotel, the Savoy, was put up for sale on the instructions of Nama in June, alongside over 80 apartments and six retail units. It is for sale in three lots - lot 1 is the hotel, lot 2 comprises the apartments and retail, and the third lot is the whole development.

The entire development was put up for sale for a guide price of €13.5m to €15m - seven years after the development was built by developer Michael Daly by €100m during the Celtic Tiger boom.

The long-term tenants of the commercial units – including Laura Ashley, Pamela Scott’s, Schuh, and Clark’s among others – will not be affected by the sale, which also includes the sale of 84 apartments in City Central overhead.

Ronan Branigan, one of the directors of the company operating the Savoy hotel, is understood to be one of the bidders to buy the Savoy hotel as said he is anxious that the hotel remains in Limerick ownership.

Some 120 people are employed between the hotel and the Hampton’s restaurant in the basement downstairs next door, which Mr Branigan owns and runs. Of the 120 employed, 80 are in full-time employment.

Mr Branigan, a native of Monaghan, and his business partner Michael Roche took over the hotel in 2009, “when we rescued it from liquidation and saved 100 jobs”.

Developer Michael Daly’s Fordmount Group were behind the construction of the hotel and that company took responsibility for the hotel after Irresistible Hotels Ltd, who ran the business, went into liquidation.

Since then, an €86m judgement was entered against Mr Daly in the High Court over unpaid development loans of €165 million advanced by Anglo Irish Bank to three companies in the Fordmount Property Group, and two partnerships, to buy property in Limerick city and county. A number of its other assets in the city have also been sold.

In April of last year 50 jobs were lost with the closure of the 72-bed Patrick Punch’s hotel at Punch’s Cross on the Ballinacurra Road.

Originally owned by the Dunne Hotel Group, the business was placed into examinership in 2008. Between then, and early 2011, it was run by Price Waterhouse Coopers on behalf of Bank of Scotland.

The decision was taken to close down the property in February 2011, but a deal was secured by Carlow hotel operator Paul Browne at the last minute, a move which saved 44 jobs at the time.