Four current and ex-Irish international rugby players shared €120,000 in dividends and ambassador fees from their Dublin 4 pub venture before Covid-19 temporarily shut down the business.
The four – Rob Kearney, Dave Kearney, Jamie Heaslip and Sean O’Brien – have shares in the Bridge 1859 in Ballsbridge as well as the Lemon & Duke in Dublin city centre in a venture with Noel Anderson.
Accounts for Bridge 1859 company, Herbert Inns Ltd, to the end of February 2020 show that shareholders shared €100,000 in dividends for the year for their combined 32.32 per cent shareholding in the business. Mr Anderson, chairman of the Licensed Vintners Association, owns the remainder.
The directors also received €20,000 in “ambassador fees”. Herbert Inns recorded profits of €284,233 in the 12 months.
Accounts for the group’s sister pub, Lemon & Duke – one of the pubs at the heart of the row with insurer FBD over business disruption cover during Covid-19 shutdowns – show profits of €153,368 in the year to the end of February 2020.
The four rugby stars own a combined 38.76 per cent of that business.
Accumulated profits at Herbert Inns stood at €1.32 million while accumulated profits for the Lemon & Duke company stood at €490,847.
Mr Anderson said on Friday that he had “been to hell and back” over the past year with the Covid-19 business impact. Pre-Covid-19, “we were going to go into the busiest year the two businesses ever had with all the events that were due to take place – the American Football, the Euros in Ballsbridge, the concerts, tourism booming and then the world decided to cave in some shape or form”.
Mr Anderson said his four fellow directors are all very supportive. He said: “Rob is in Australia, Sean is in London. Dave and Jamie are around. I speak to Jamie and Dave on a regular basis.”
Commenting on the pre-Covid profits for each pub, Mr Anderson stated: “We won’t get back to those numbers anytime soon, but we will get back.”
He said bookings were strong ahead of the pubs reopening next week for outdoor business.