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25 July 2016 | Leisure

Living the Dream

Christie & Co Director Mark Worley discusses the attractions of the North East for those wishing to "Live the Dream".

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Many people covet the opportunity to run a business where they can “live the dream” of working their own hours, being their own boss and live a lifestyle of their choosing, whether that be by a beach, at the top of a mountain or in a quiet patch of the countryside.

In the leisure trade, we call this running a lifestyle business, and although it sounds idyllic, we are seeing more and more people looking to make this move -those who have quit the rat race to pursue their dream of running a bed and breakfast, cafe, country pub, hotel or similar business in some of the country’s most picturesque and desirable regions.

In comparison to the highly-populated centres around Manchester and Leeds, in the North East we don’t have as many large towns and cities with which to attract major commercial business footfall. Although Newcastle, Durham and Teesside are the main business centres, pub and hotel operators have, historically, tended to focus their attentions on other cities across the UK.

However, what we do have in abundance is our share of tourist attractions, such as the national parks of Northumberland and North York Moors as well as the beautiful Northumberland coastline and the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site.  These keep our smaller privately owned hotels and pubs saturated with customers and naturally this prolific footfall is always going to attract the interest of buyers.

Many of the deals done from our Newcastle office over the last 12 to 18 months have been in the private sector and to people wanting to take on this “lifestyle” way of running a business – most notably Cliffemount Hotel on the North York Moors and the Twice Brewed Inn on Hadrian’s Wall.  The sector is thriving and demand for good-quality pubs and hotels is strong across the whole of the North East region.  Whether you are looking to buy a leisure business in Darlington, Durham or Denwick, the market is going to be very competitive, often with more than one potential buyer bidding.

Of course, in common with the rest of the UK, buyers still ideally want to see good profits or at least the potential to make good profits and if the latter this should be reflected in the price. And of course, location is key with Tyneside, Northumberland, North Yorkshire and Durham being the most sought after areas. That said, there is also a high demand for businesses in smaller, attractive locations so there is plenty out there for the private buyer looking to make that lifestyle move in or to the North East.

For example, Fairshaw Rigg near Hexham is a high-quality bed and breakfast business on the market at £695,000 which provides the owners with not only a fine family home in which to live but also a profitable business making in excess of £30,000 profit which in turn allows them time to develop and fund other business ventures, in this case, trading in Alpaca produce.

For those who are interested in pursuing a more socially involved business, The Cross Keys in Eastgate is available at an asking price of £365,000. This grade II listed coaching inn set in the beautiful Wear Valley is a well respected traditional pub and restaurant and has seven well appointed letting rooms to take full advantage of its position on the c2c cycle route.

For those with £1 million plus to spend then perhaps a country house hotel would be of interest. Horsley Hall, also in Weardale is a stunning building with masses of period charm. It has nine bedrooms, and caters for everything from weddings and shooting parties, to individual shoot days.

For those who like the outdoor life, Hadrian’s Wall Campsite and Caravan site, near Haltwhistle, is based in a beauty spot on the edge of the Northumberland National Park, made up of a four bedroom stone built house, 50 touring/motor home pitches, a 4.5 acre caravan site, shop and cafe as well as a bunkhouse which sleeps up to 10 people, on the market at offers over £799,000.

Finally Bramblewick in Robin Hood’s Bay is a cafe/restaurant and bed and breakfast business, which operates out of an imposing, four storey property just meters away from the sand.

The business has been in the hands of the current operators for six years, and is a well established, profitable concern. The freehold interest of the business is being marketed at £425,000; however the owners are open to creating a new lease for the cafe/restaurant (terms to be agreed).

As the pace of modern living seems to be forever increasing and as our life expectancy continues to rise, it seems natural that some of us will look towards alternative lifestyles. If you’re thinking of “living the dream” and want to combine your business ambitions with a more adaptable way of life, please do get in touch.
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