Eason starts new chapter with Dublin store in Clare Hall

Together with recently-opened Limerick store, retailer says it will create 30 jobs

Eason chief executive Conor Whelan: core books category is “showing positive signs of improvement”. Photograph: Shane O’Neill Photography.

Eason chief executive Conor Whelan: core books category is “showing positive signs of improvement”. Photograph: Shane O’Neill Photography.

 

The books retailer Eason is planning to expand with the opening of a new store in the Clare Hall shopping centre in north Dublin in March.

A total of 30 new jobs will be created at the retailer when the new outlet is combined with a store in Limerick’s Crescent shopping centre that opened shortly before Christmas, the company said.

After a painful five-year restructuring during the recession, and in the face of a turbulent retail environment for books, Eason has started to expand in recent years. The new outlets, together with two acquired stores rebranded last year, bring its network of stores across Ireland to 65, including about 10 in Northern Ireland.

The Clare Hall outlet will comprise about 4,000sq ft (371sq m) of retail space. As well as selling books, magazines and stationery, it will also feature several of the new retail concepts Eason has developed in-house in recent years.

Clare Hall will include its Easonology department, which sells puzzles and brain games; Department 51 aimed at young adults and teenagers; and a gifts department.

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The company said it had spent about €12 million upgrading and expanding its estate in recent years, including a major revamp of its O’Connell Street flagship in Dublin and its outlet in Newbridge, Co Kildare. Two years ago it also bought two Porters stores in Cork.

The group, led by chief executive Conor Whelan, said it would continue its capital investment programme in 2017.

“Despite a fragile economic recovery and ongoing challenges in the retail market, our ambition is to continue growing and developing the Eason business and we’re very pleased to add these two [Limerick and Clare Hall] highly sought-after locations,” he said.

“While the recovery is still fragile and recent developments are posing new challenges, we’re pleased that our core books category is showing positive signs of improvement. Our continued investment, both in new stores and ongoing transformation of our business, will help us deliver on our ambitious commercial growth strategy over the coming years,” said Mr Whelan.

Eason is owned by about 230 shareholders in a public company structure, although its shares are not traded on an exchange.

It got back into the black last year with a €1.2 million after-tax profit for the year to the end of last January, compared with a €2.7 million loss the previous year. Its sales rose by 9 per cent to €147.2 million.

It now employs about 1,000 staff across its network.