Buying a bar for fun and profit


Dear Hillary,

I’ve been going backwards and forwards on holidays between here and the UK for four years.  I am close to the age pension and I am thinking about retiring here, so I was hoping you could advise me on a couple of points, because you know the lie of the land.  It has always been one of my ambitions to have my own little pub (I’ve spent a fair deal of time in little pubs and bars after work).  There seems to be a few very successful bars for sale and they only want about 600,000 baht for most of them.  Since I will be getting a nice tidy sum for my retirement (I have a private plan as well as the government one), I thought I might invest in my own little pub by buying a half share or something.  It would be nice to make money at a bar, rather than spending money at a bar, don’t you reckon, Hillary!  My only worry is that I have heard that foreigners have been ripped off and I am hoping you can advise me on what to watch for.  While the pension looks good I don’t want to lose it either.


Dear Geordie,

With apologies to the Charge of the Light Brigade – “Into the valley of death rode the six hundred” (thousand baht).  Geordie, Geordie!  For a start, there are very few successful bar owners who learned the trade from propping up the outside of the bar.  You need to have experience in running a bar or pub before investing in one.  Even with half shares for sale, have you stopped to think why the owner of such a successful establishment would want to give half of it away?  Things to watch for?  Two sets of books for one.  The set you get to see and the real books.  There’s probably another set for the tax man.  Then there is always the third or fourth 50 percent share that gets sold.  You also need a work permit, and that isn’t easy for working in a bar.  You might get a bonus?  Unfortunately, with the economic downturn, tourist cancellations etc., etc., etc., the bar will pay no dividend this year and the regretful owner will buy your 50 percent share back for 100,000 baht.  Yes, there are quick profits to be made in the bar bizz – for the seller, not the purchaser.  Mind you, if you can get a half share in Jameson’s for 600,000 baht, count me in too!

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