50 jobs at risk as Blacktie goes into liquidation
Blacktie, the Irish formal wear hire company founded by “dragon” Niall O’Farrell, has become the latest victim of the economic downturn.
A liquidator will be appointed to the chain’s 11 stores on February 1st, putting about 50 jobs at risk. In the meantime, the shops will continue to trade as normal in the hope a buyer for the group can be secured.
Founded in 1985 by Mr O’Farrell, one of the original investors on the Dragons’ Den television show, the chain is in trouble due to a combination of market and economic factors.
These include, he said, a “decline in the formal wear rental market, increased lower-cost retailers from the high street, higher utility and branch operating costs and unaffordable high levels of rates”.
At its height the chain operated about 15 stores, employing more than 100 people. However, the downturn hit the business hard, with Mr O’Farrell telling this newspaper in 2010 that the years 2007-2008 were “pretty appalling”.
A restructuring followed in 2010, and the store closed three outlets – on Dublin’s Dawson Street, in Blackrock in Dublin and in Drogheda, Co Louth – reducing its staff to about 52.
In a statement, Mr O’Farrell said the decision to put the stores into liquidation was one he deeply regretted.
“ I spent most of my career establishing and developing Blacktie, and have done all I could to bolster its prospects.”
He had not drawn a salary from the business for four years, and had invested “substantial personal resources” in the business.
Mr O’Farrell stepped down from Dragons’ Den last year. His other investments include a property portfolio; the Henry Jermyn chain of men’s clothes shops; and those from his time on Dragons’ Den, including jeweller Button Co.