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Jobs boost for hospitality as Beannchor announces new investment

Pictured unveiling plans for the latest additions to the Beannchor group’s portfolio are Bill and Petra Wolsey.

Pictured unveiling plans for the latest additions to the Beannchor group’s portfolio are Bill and Petra Wolsey.

Pictured unveiling plans for the latest additions to the Beannchor group’s portfolio are Bill and Petra Wolsey.

Northern Ireland’s hospitality sector is to receive a significant jobs boost thanks to a new investment announced today by Beannchor, the province’s largest hospitality group and owner of The Merchant Hotel.

The announcement comes as part of the ongoing expansion of the Beannchor group – which owns over 50 pubs, hotels and restaurants across Northern Ireland – and will see the creation of over 40 new jobs this summer following  its investment in two new ventures in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter.  A further announcement of up to 50 additional jobs is expected to follow in the autumn with the opening of a third new venue in the Cathedral Quarter later this year.

The National Grande Café Bar – due to open in early September – will be situated in the former National Bank building on High Street, while a new artisan bakery and patisserie will open in the adjacent building.

Bill Wolsey, managing director of the Beannchor Group, said: “The hospitality industry is crucial to Northern Ireland’s economy and will be one of the key drivers for sustainable economic growth here in the coming years.  Ongoing investment in the sector is essential, however, if it is to grow and prosper to its full potential amid very challenging economic times.

“Our latest investment of around £700,000 in these two new venues – adding to our major investment of over £16million in the hospitality industry in recent years – will bring an economic boost not only to the Cathedral Quarter, but to the city centre and the wider hospitality industry as a whole.

“The creation of 42 new full –time and part-time jobs this summer and up to 50 new jobs later this year will come as good news to the industry amid ongoing job losses,” he continued. “These new posts, when underpinned by the ongoing staff training and development programmes offered by Beannchor, offer very strong prospects for a long-term career as part of what is one of the Northern Ireland’s most exciting industries.”

The National Grande Café Bar will offer a classic continental café bar experience, right in the heart of Belfast.  As well as a range of classic dishes, the bar will also offer a selection of high-quality coffees, craft beers, premier spirits and an extensive selection of wines.  The National will open for breakfast at 8am and will serve food throughout the day until 7pm, with the venue serving drinks later into the evening.

The new adjoining 1,300 sq ft patisserie meanwhile, which will also cater for The National, marks a brand new venture for the Beannchor group and, according to Petra Wolsey, brings a new dimension to the hospitality and retail industries in Northern Ireland.

“Our new bakery and patisserie will be the first of its kind in Belfast, selling high-end, beautiful artisan breads, pastries, macaroons and gateaux,” she said. “In creating this exciting new venture, we have taken what is a very old, much-loved tradition in Northern Ireland – the bakery – and added a modern, continental flare which will be completely new to the hospitality and retail sectors in Northern Ireland.

“Baking at this level is a real art and we will be recruiting a team of highly-skilled bakers and pastry chefs to make wonderful, fresh produce to the very high standard to which people have become accustomed at our Merchant afternoon teas.”

The Beannchor Group has continued to grow in recent years, despite the tough economic climate, having completed a multi-million pound extension of the Merchant Hotel, opened several new pubs including Cuckoo and Tilt, and expanded its chain of Little Wing Pizzerias.  Beannchor has an annual turnover of approximately £20million and directly employs 600 staff.


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