JD Wetherspoon has sold five of its nine pubs in Northern Ireland to the Granny Annie's group for a deal rumoured to be in excess of £3 million.
Granny Annie's, which is run by Willis and Ryan McLaughlin, operates pubs in Limavady; Derry; and Belfast. The deal will see it take over The Old Courthouse in Coleraine; The Spinning Mill in Ballymena; The Linen Hall in Enniskillen and two Derry pubs, reports The Belfast Telegraph.
"We understand that our loyal customers will be disappointed with the decision to sell five of our pubs in Northern Ireland. However, as a company we have to make commercial decisions and it was decided to sell the pubs. At the same time we are looking to open two new pubs in Belfast in the near future," commented Tim Martin (pictured), chairman of the company.
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Wetherspoon's said it will spend more than £4.5 million developing the two new pubs and that they will result in the creation of 100 new jobs. Martin had recently commented in a trading statement that the company's sales growth "has slowed in recent weeks" and that he expects higher costs for the remainder of the year.