Inside Business: Irish exploit liquid assets

Dublin snugs are even popping up in Abu Dhabi. Helen Jones explains the allure of the Emerald Isle

There Is a shamrock over the bar, Irish stew on the menu and the Guinness is flowing. But Finnegan's Bar is not in Dublin; it is in Abu Dhabi.

There is unbridled enthusiasm for Irish-style drinking dens and as a result a host of O'Hagen's, McGinty's and O'Neill's bars have opened everywhere from Iceland to Australia. And where there is an Irish bar there has to be Guinness.

But instead of taking the risk of investing in its own far-flung chain of Irish bars, Guinness Brewing is assisting other brewers, entrepreneurs and individuals to create them. In the process it is building demand for Ireland's national drink - and all at little cost to itself.

Jonathan Miller, a Guinness spokesman, says: "In 1992 we started to look at the number of Irish bars opening around the world and the amount of Guinness they were selling. There was clearly a connection between the atmosphere in Irish bars and the volumes sold."

It is a picture that is repeated in Britain where Mr Miller says: "The average pub might sell two kegs of Guinness a week but if the pub has been converted to an Irish theme, sales reach 40 kegs a week." He adds that people come in for the craic, the warmth of the atmosphere, the food and the Irish music, as well as for the Guinness.

In order to create these ersatz Irish bars in Moscow, Johannesburg or Sydney, Guinness has brought together designers, musicians and recruitment specialists under the banner of the Guinness Irish Pub Concept.

Anyone who fancies investing in their own Irish pub can contact Guinness, which will provide free design and sourcing skills together with marketing advice. Guinness, in association with a network of estate agents, can help find a potential site and will then design the bar to fit it and ship it over in a couple of containers as a flat pack.

The Guinness Irish Pub Concept comprises five distinct Irish pub designs, including the Irish country cottage pub, the traditional Irish pub shop and the Victorian Dublin pub. They cost on average between pounds 150,000 to pounds 200,000, although one bar owner in the US has spent $1.5m (pounds 900m) creating his pride and joy, which features all five pub styles under one roof.

Guinness is also working with a music agent to organise tours for Irish musicians to Irish pubs and has commissioned Myrtle Allen, an Irish chef, to produce a range of suitable recipes that can be reproduced anywhere in the world.

But perhaps even more important than the decor or the food in recreating the Irish atmosphere are the bar staff. Guinness is working with a Dublin recruitment agency to supply genuine Irish bar staff with big personalities who can ensure that even in the most unlikely of settings, Irish bonhomie will prevail.

More than 100 pubs around the world have been created this way, many of which are financed by private individuals. But in Britain many of the Guinness-designed Irish bars are owned by Bass Taverns. The company has 74 O'Neill's bars decked out as Irish "pub-come-shops" that feature bric- a-brac from offig an phoists (post offices), drapers or hardware stores. They are intended to reflect an old Irish tradition in which the shop owner would sell the odd pint of Guinness alongside his other wares. Bass is planning to launch at least a further 50.

Janice Clark, of Bass Taverns, says: "We have got into Irish bars partly because of emerging competition but also because we think they offer consumers something different. We are trying to recreate the celebrated Irish craic and it is something that our customers have really responded to."

But given the ubiquity of Irish bars is there a danger of overkill? Mr Miller says: "Yes there are a lot of Irish-themed bars about. But many of them are just cynical exercises, they think if you stick a shillelagh behind the bar then it makes it an Irish pub - we call them plastic Paddys. Our pubs are rooted in authenticity. All the bric-a-brac is original, not fake and the bar staff are genuinely Irish. We are recreating a quality environment where people of all ages can relax."

There appears there is no place that is immune to the charm of the Irish - Guinness has just received an inquiry from a potential investor in Mongolia.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...

Reach Volunteering: Trustees with Finance, Fundraising and IT skills

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses reimbursable: Reach Volunteering: St...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent