Saltire Taverns falls into the red

Billy Lowe set up Saltire after selling Thistle Inns in 1997
Billy Lowe set up Saltire after selling Thistle Inns in 1997
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PUB tycoon Billy Lowe predicts a strong rebound into profitability for Saltire Taverns following a year of disruption as he changed his group’s portfolio.

Accounts filed at Companies House show a pre-tax loss of nearly £33,000 for the year to 31 January 2012, the period covering the sale of Saltire’s Frankenstein pubs to Glendola Leisure.

That disposal was followed just a month later by the acquisition of the Hudson Hotel and the attached Bacaro nightclub in the west side of Edinburgh from KPMG, which took control of those and other venues after previous owner Festival Group went into administration.

Taking all these changes into account, turnover fell by £1m to £5.8m. Lowe, Saltire’s majority owner, said the figures were affected by the closure of his main outlet – the Le Monde bar, restaurant and club complex on Edinburgh’s George Street – for refurbishment during September and October of 2011.

“The results at Le Monde have been excellent,” Lowe said. “Sales and profits are both up strongly,, which will be more reflected in this year’s accounts.”

The deals mark a change in direction for Lowe, who is moving away from theme bars in favour of high-profile city centre venues offering a “different kind of late-night experience”.

Following the success at Le Monde, he has closed his Hudson and Bacaro site for a refurbishment that will see the new venue re-christened as “Angels’ Share”, a Scottish-themed complex of venues. The £1m overhaul is expected to take about eight weeks.

Lowe said he would probably begin looking for further
acquisitions in the summer, with a focus upon sites that include 20 to 50 hotel rooms, large bars and the ability to deliver high-quality food. Although Saltire has previously operated venues in Glasgow and Aberdeen, Lowe intends to stay closer to home this time around.

“Although we’ve had great success in Glasgow and Aberdeen in the past, really now I want to concentrate on Edinburgh, because I have enjoyed being more hands-on,” he explained.