Dunnes’ Iron Lady prepares to show her metal with another landlord scrap
Margaret Heffernan, the Iron Lady of Dunnes Stores, appears to be digging in for yet another scrap with one of its landlords, this time in Galway. Dunnes, which has faced off against landlords in bitter court battles over outlets in Dublin and Waterford, operates a 55,000sq ft store in Galway’s Edward Square centre, formerly owned by Gerry Barrett but latterly under the control of Nama.
The centre was bought last year by Signature Capital, the investment house run by former Investec suits Ciaran McNamara and Enda Woods, for €27 million. Company documents for Comivea, a Signature entity, suggest it secured vendor finance from Nama.
The centre holds a strategic position as one of the access points from the city’s main shopping streets into the larger Eyre Square Centre. Dunnes signed an upwards-only lease in 2000 at a rent of €730,000 but this was due to rise to about €888,000 last October.
That’s when the trouble began.
Dunnes and Signature have fallen out in a big way over the rent, and Comivea plans to ask the High Court to sort it out. Signature declined to comment yesterday while Dunnes, lo and behold, didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Heffernan’s modus operandi on such matters appears to be to play hardball. She goaded a Nama-controlled developer in Waterford last year into seeking a winding-up petition against the company, before the matter was settled.
Heffernan clearly wants better value. But can she beat them all?