Takeover of Clerys saves 350 jobs

Tue, Sep 18, 2012, 01:00

Seventy-one years after it was taken over by Kerryman Denis Guiney and his family, the famous Clerys department store in Dublin was acquired by a US company yesterday.

The takeover safeguards almost 350 jobs at the O’Connell Street store, which will continue to trade as normal.

However, its sister shop, Guineys on Dublin’s Talbot Street, and the Clerys home furnishing stores in Leopardstown and Naas, have been closed with the loss of 29 jobs.

Boston-based private equity group Gordon Brothers acquired Clery & Co (1941) plc through a subsidiary called OCS Investment Holdings.

No financial details were released but Gordon is believed to have paid about €15 million to acquire the retailer’s €26 million debts from Bank of Ireland.

Frank Morton, chief executive of Gordon Brothers Europe, said the deal would mark a “fresh start” for Clerys. “We are acutely conscious of and respectful towards its heritage and tradition,” he said.

He added that changes would be required to bring the store on to a “secure and sustainable footing”.

“We will invest in the store and look forward to working with the management, staff, concessionaires and suppliers to review and improve operations, to significantly enhance the offering to customers and build on the many excellent features of the store,” he said.

The new owners said all customer deposits, vouchers and store cards in place prior to the receivers being appointed would be honoured in full.

At 6.48pm yesterday, an announcement was released that Paul McCann and Michael McAteer of Grant Thornton were appointed as joint receivers to Clery & Co (1941) plc, Denis Guiney Limited and Yterrbium Limited after a request by the company’s directors.

Hours later, it was announced that the O’Connell Street business had been sold to Gordon Brothers.

Retail Excellence Ireland, the industry trade body, today welcomed the news a buyer had been found for Clerys.

"This will now mean new investment in the business and the return of Clerys to competitive footing. Leases in their retail park stores (Leopardstown and Naas) were a major contributor to receivership," David Fitzsimons, CEO of Retail Excellence Ireland, said.

Clerys employs 147 staff directly at the O’Connell Street store while more than 200 work for the 49 concessionaires there. Chief executive PJ Timmons is expected to remain with the business.

A petition will be filed with the High Court at the request of the directors to appoint a liquidator to Guiney & Co Ltd, which trades as Guineys on Talbot Street, and Denis Guiney Furnishings Ltd, which operates the home furnishing stores, viewed to be no longer viable by management. Farrell Grant Sparks are expected to be appointed as liquidators.

The O’Connell Street store opened in 1853, albeit under a different name. It had survived two world wars, a civil war and many recessions but debts relating to the Celtic Tiger property bubble almost brought its closure. Clerys lost €2 million in the year to the end of January 2011.

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