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2nd Dec 2019 in Business

The company behind some of the best-known pubs in the Cathedral Quarter has announced it is back in profit after recent refits and expansion.

The HJ Downey firm owns The Thirsty Goat on the 21 Social site which it opened in 2017.

It features a huge beer garden with the eponymous goat centre stage in a glass case.

The family outfit is owned by Derry’s former all-Ireland winning captain Henry and his brothers Seamus and John.

They also run Belfast landmarks McHugh’s on Custom House Square, Hellcat Maggies, which was formerly the Apartment on Donegall Square West, and The Kitchen Bar in Victoria Square.

The Downey family’s entry into the drinks trade followed the acquisition of a small pub in Maghera during the mid-1990s followed by a bigger bar in Magherafelt.

They entered the Belfast scene in dramatic fashion in 2013 when they bought a portfolio of seven pubs previously operated by Botanic Inns for £4.3million.

Four of the concerns were quickly sold on, with the Downeys retaining McHugh’s, the Apartment and the Kitchen.

New accounts for the group showed it recovered from an almost half million pound loss £497,000 loss in 2017 to record an operating profit of £1.26 million in 2018.

The swing back to profit followed a £2m surge in the company turnover from £7.3m to £9.3m.

HJ Downey LRD is also behind a series of venues in Derry, including Metro and a second Thirsty Goat pub in Derry City and they retain the family-named Downey’s Bar in Magherafelt.

The latest accounts filed by the firm, show it employs almost 100 staff at a cost of around £2million.

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