Posted on Monday 8 July 2013 by Ulster Business

Merchant

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 company which owns The Merchant Hotel.

More than 40 new jobs are to be created this summer following the company's investment in two new ventures in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter – a restaurant and an artisan bakery.

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

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 news comes as part of the ongoing expansion of the Beannchor group - which owns over 50 pubs, hotels and restaurants across Northern Ireland – and will provide a welcome boost at a time when the hospitality sector has been struggling.

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 £16m 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."

Beannchor said The National Grande Café Bar will offer a "classic continental café bar experience" with a range of classic dishes and 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 is a brand new venture for the grou.

Petra Wolsey from Beannchor explained: "Our new bakery and patisserie will be the first of its kind in Belfast, selling high-end, beautiful artisan breads, pastries, macaroons and gateaux. 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."

As well as a multi-million pound extension of the Merchant Hotel, Beannchor has opened several new pubs in recent times, including Cuckoo and Tilt, and has also expanded its chain of Little Wing Pizzerias. It has an annual turnover of approximately £20m and directly employs 600 staff.

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