Dunnes keeps going posh amid rumours it had a bite at Avoca
Retailer headed by Margaret Heffernan starts 2016 with legal battles with landlords
There is talk doing the rounds that Dunnes was among the potential buyers who were interested in the Avoca Handweavers chain that was eventually bought by Aramark for more than €60 million
Dunnes Stores appears to be starting 2016 the same way it finished 2015: limbering up for legal battles with its landlords.
Michael Cotter’s Killiney Estates company, which owns Park Developments, has filed a summary judgment action for debt against Dunnes, which occupies a store in the Leopardstown Valley shopping centre developed by Cotter.
The summary judgment tactic is a standard one in rent disputes between retailers and their landlords. Dunnes, led by its gritty chief executive Margaret Heffernan, is most certainly a veteran of those.
The Cotter case is Dunnes’ first such dispute this year, but it has had reams of them over the last few years with a large number of its landlords.
Last year alone it had disputes with several landlords including the Bailey Brothers’ Bovale, the Square in Tallaght and institutional landlord Irish Life Assurance.
Meanwhile, Dunnes is ploughing ahead with its plans to go posh. After buying the Café Sol chain and the Whelan’s butchers wholesale business, it is seemingly on an acquisitions spree for retail brands that it can use to convert the middle classes to its grocery aisles.
It is an intriguing idea: Dunnes, once the home of St Bernard, vying to take control of one of the best-known luxury textile and food service brands in the country. It would have been a game changer. Alas...
The theory is that when it didn’t manage to get Avoca, Dunnes turned instead to Whelan’s, which already had a relationship with Avoca via in-store butcheries that were not part of the sale of Whelan’s to Dunnes.
The retail landscape really is changing fast.