M&S embroiled in financial dispute with Frascati landlord

Blackrock shopping centre row may end up in Commercial Court if not resolved

Frascati centre, Blackrock, Co Dublin: building work is about to get under way on an estimated €40 million revamp.

Frascati centre, Blackrock, Co Dublin: building work is about to get under way on an estimated €40 million revamp.

 

Marks & Spencer has become involved in a major financial dispute with its landlord at the Frascati shopping centre in the upmarket Dublin suburb of Blackrock. The row could end up in the Commercial Court, the fast-track division of the High Court that is reserved for multimillion-euro disputes.

Building work is about to get under way on an estimated €40 million revamp of the Frascati centre, which was bought by US fund Invesco for €68 million in 2015. The project will more than double retail space at the complex, including a sizeable extension to the 20,000sq ft supermarket unit occupied by M&S.

M&S is understood to currently pay rent of about €750,000 on its existing store, one of its busiest food halls in Ireland. Its unit is the second-largest in the Frascati centre after the other anchor tenant, Debenhams.

M&S has now fallen out with the Invesco fund that owns the centre, which is managed by John Bruder’s Burlington Real Estate. The retailer has filed a High Court action against the landlord IMRF 11 Frascati Limited Partnership, grounded by an affidavit from M&S Ireland’s finance director, Ken Scully.

M&S wants the fast-track commercial division to accept the case at a hearing next Monday. It has hired top corporate law firm, Eugene F Collins, to represent it. M&S declined to comment when asked about the High Court row and for clarity over its financial arrangements with Frascati.

Invesco entity

The Invesco entity has yet to file any legal papers for the case, while Burlington’s Mr Bruder did not return calls for comment. Burlington is also overseeing the extension of the shopping centre.

The centre was originally developed by the Roche family who owned Roches Stores, which was the main occupier of the centre until Roches was sold to Debenhams over a decade ago.

The Roche family retained control of the Blackrock property until 2015, before Burlington acquired it on behalf of Invesco.

The imminent redevelopment includes an extensive underground car park, as well as about 15 further stores in a two-storey addition to the front of the centre, and a sizeable complex of restaurants and smaller food service premises.

Frascati is directly opposite the larger and more modern Blackrock shopping centre, whose anchor tenants include a SuperValu supermarket.

While Frascati is more dated and has been somewhat hamstrung by mostly smaller units, its prime location in one of the most salubrious quarters of Dublin has made it a sought-after retail location.