It survived the 1916 Easter Rising, two world wars, and major storm damage two years ago but the historic Clerys department store on O’Connell Street in Dublin closed its doors for the final time last night with the loss of 460 jobs.
About a dozen Clerys staff staged a sit-in last night at the store in protest at the events that unfolded on a dramatic day for the 162-year old retailer.
At about 2.30am yesterday, Clerys' US owners Gordon Brothers sold the business lock, stock and barrel to a joint venture called Natrium Ltd, comprising Irish investment group D2 Private and Cheyne Capital Management. The sale price wasn't disclosed.
Hours later the High Court appointed Kieran Wallace and Eamonn Richardson of KPMG as joint provisional liquidators to the company operating Clerys, OCS Operations Ltd.
This company employs 130 people at the store and in its warehouse. Another 330 are employed by the 50 concession holders who operate in the department store.
Events in the High Court indicate that this is a property play by the new owners, who declined to comment. Sources last night suggested that the store might be redeveloped to comprise retail on the ground floor and offices above.
Mr Justice Paul Gilligan was told that the company operating Clerys must immediately cease trading and close down to prevent any further debts arising.
Between August 2012 and January 2015, the business lost €4.3 million and relied on loans from its parent group.
The judge said he was satisfied to make the appointments as the firm was “balance sheet insolvent” and appeared to be in “severe financial difficulty”. This is pending the hearing next month of the petition to have it wound up.
OCS Operations Ltd and OCS Properties Ltd, which owns the store, are both owned by OCS Investment Holdings Ltd and form the OCS group of companies whose owner was Gordon Brothers.
Kelley Smith, counsel for OCS Operations, said, the company had no alternative but the appointment of liquidators.