Bass to expand All Bar One and O'Neills into Europe

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The Independent Online
BASS, the leisure giant, is planning to take some of its most successful pub chains overseas. Sir Ian Prosser, the group's chairman, has identified All Bar One, the continental style bar, and O'Neills, the Irish pub, as concepts that would prove popular abroad. He is looking to roll out the group's pub business throughout Europe and America over the next few years.

The group hopes to cash in on the growing popularity of theme pubs in continental Europe. Bass also believes that the market for Irish houses has peaked in the UK. In recent years the industry has been swamped with a host of new pubs, all based on the same theme with little to tell between them. Now Bass has chosen to grow the O'Neill's name overseas where there is still room to exploit the brand and the competition is less fierce, rather than at home.

Bass has also identified a number of states in the US where it could open up bars. After its acquisition of the Holiday Inn hotel chain the group is prohibited from opening pubs in many American cities. However it is confident it will be allowed to set up a number of new sites across the Atlantic.

Bass's move follows a move by other large pub groups such as Scottish & Newcastle, who are also looking to Europe to provide a lucrative source of new business.

Bass also hopes to expand its brewing interests overseas. It is at present locked in a battle with rival producers in Czechoslovakia, but eventually hopes to expand its operations in Eastern Europe.

Bass still plans to invest heavily in growing its managed pub estate in the UK, having recently sold off its tenanted houses. It is looking to acquire hundred of new sites to further expansion of chains such as Edwards and It's a Scream, its new student pub chain.

Bass has embarked on a radical shake up of its business over the last six months, culminating in the pounds 1.8bn acquisition of Inter-Continental hotels. It now plans annual capital expenditure of pounds 750m across the group to fund its pub expansion and the acquisition of hotels in Asia and the US.