Porterhouse Group Records 21% Decrease In Operating Profits
The Porterhouse pub group has recorded a 21% decrease in operating profits for the year that ended on February 29, 2020.
As reported by rte.ie and The Irish Independent, new accounts for Wavecrest Inn Ltd have revealed that the Porterhouse pub group experienced the 21% decrease in operating profits to €790,023 during the 12 month period that ended on February 29, 2020, after its revenues decreased by 6% from €31.65 million to €29.74 million.
Meanwhile, the number of people employed across the group increased from 247 to 285 during the 12 month period; staff costs decreased from €9.3 million to €8.7 million; and the group experienced a pre-tax profit of €140,440 after a pre-tax loss of €2 million the previous year, mainly due to a non-cash €2.1 million write down.
The profit for the 12 month period that ended on February 29, 2020, took account of €1.23 million in non-cash depreciation costs.
Additionally, according to rte.ie, the group's accumulated profits amounted to €16.54 million at the end of February of 2020.
The accounts cover the Porterhouse bars and Port House restaurants in Dublin and London as well as the group's brewery and distribution businesses.
The group's Irish operation's revenues amounted to €22 million during the year that ended on February 29, 2020, and its UK operation's revenues amounted to €7.7 million during the 12 month period.
Porterhouse Group Business Development Director Statements
Rte.ie and The Irish Independent quote Porterhouse Group business development director Elliot Hughes as saying, "We have seen enormous drops in revenue and profit over the past year due to COVID-19. This has been a hugely significant drain on our business, like many others in the hospitality sector in Ireland. We hope that this year, once reopened, will see us bounce back."
According to Hughes, the group has lost 10% of its employees to other sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic to date.
Rte.ie and The Irish Independent quote Hughes as saying, "We are happy with how the majority of group performed overall over the year [that ended on February 29, 2020]."
According to rte.ie, Hughes said that the 2019-2020 financial year was a challenging period for certain elements of the group as one of its main premises, Lost Lane, reopened with significant investment.
Rte.ie quotes Hughes as saying, "Outside of this our other businesses performed well and Lost Lane performed well when opened."
According to rte.ie, Hughes stated that the group's bars and restaurants in England are now open for indoor dining.
Rte.ie and The Irish Independent quote Hughes as saying regarding his hopes for reopening in Ireland, "I am hopeful that once reopened indoors we can begin to recover.
"The government need to have the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) in place for at least the remainder of the year while we would also like to see support for tenants in the hospitality sector who are unfairly affected by faceless international landlords who care little for the reopening of Irish business."
According to rte.ie, Hughes also said that the impact on morale over the past 14 months was tough at the start, with "huge uncertainty", but the resilience shown by the group's team over the past year has been fantastic.
Rte.ie quotes Hughes as saying, "We are now eager to get back up and running as soon as we can."
"The Port House" Name Dispute
In other Porterhouse Group news, the group has reportedly expressed confidence that it can continue to use "The Port House" name despite losing a legal battle to register the name as a trademark in the EU.
According to The Irish Times, the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has ruled that the use of "The Port House" name by the group could cause confusion among consumers who might think that The Port House restaurants are associated with port wines.
The EUIPO reportedly upheld a challenge by a Portuguese public institute called the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e do Porto (IVDP) that was established to certify and protect the name "port" for wine products made in Portugal's Douro Valley.
According to The Irish Times, Hughes said that the ruling was disappointing, but that further legal advice is being sought to see if it will be appealed.
The Irish Times quotes Hughes as saying, "We hope that we will be able to retain the name, but it is not something we will be able to register as a trademark if the ruling stands."
Hughes reportedly added, "The trademark has been refused. However, this makes no impact on the restaurants going forward. We don't expect to have any negative consequences from the decision."
According to The Irish Times, the IVDP claimed that the name "port" and other variations including "port wine" have had protected status under EU regulations since December of 1991, and that the protection also applies to products that do not belong to the wine sector when the use of the word "port", without due cause, would take unfair advantage of port's distinctive character.
The IVDP reportedly said that protection provided by the EU was the result of a long history that dates back many centuries, with wine specialists recognising the superior quality of wines that are protected by the protected designation of origin (PDO) "port".
The IVDP reportedly said that it has made continuous and significant efforts to promote the PDO "port" globally and has spent significant amounts of money on promoting and advertising wine that is protected by it, and claimed that the Porterhouse Group's proposed use of "The Port House" name is "confusingly similar both visually, aurally as well as conceptually".
The IVDP reportedly said that the average consumer who saw the sign would wonder if the establishment in question was related to wine that is protected by the PDO "port", and claimed that the sign would lead to the exploitation of the global fame and reputation of port wine.
The Irish Times quotes the IVDP as saying, "The contested sign aims to benefit from the image of quality and tradition of the good protected by the PDO."
Porterhouse Group Argument
According to The Irish Times, the Porterhouse Group, which applied to register "The Port House" name as a trademark in 2019, argued that the word "port" has several meanings, including its most common understanding as a place where ships dock, and that such a meaning prevents consumers from thinking of port wine, and its proposed trademark is not capable of exploiting the reputation of port wines.
However, the EUIPO reportedly said that it is clear that EU regulations recognise "port" under its protected designation of origin list and its protected geographical indication list, which offer a guarantee of quality due to their geographical provenance, and also observed that the word "porthouse" is the name given to facility in which port is produced.
According to The Irish Times, the EUIPO stated that the fact that the "Port House" name that the Porterhouse Group wants to register is two words does not prevent the public from associating it with the meaning of the word "porthouse", and ruled that the contested sign would be perceived by some consumers as a reference to an establishment at which port is manufactured, sold or served.
According to The Irish Times, the EUIPO agreed with the IVDP that the use of "The Port House" sign would allow the Porterhouse Group to take undue advantage of and exploit the exceptional reputation that is enjoyed by port wine among European consumers.
The Port House Restaurant Locations
The Porterhouse Group operates four restaurants under "The Port House" name in Dublin - one in Temple Bar, one on the capital's South William Street, one on the capital's Camden Street and one in Dundrum - as well as one on the Strand in London.
© 2021 Hospitality Ireland – your source for the latest industry news. Article by Dave Simpson. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.