Natrium sets sights on Apple Store in Clerys building

No deal agreed, but developer pursuing tech giant to make outlet deal


The consortium that bought the Clerys store in Dublin for €29 million is trying to lure Apple to open a flagship retail outlet on the ground floor of the site.

It is understood the Natrium consortium, fronted by D2 Private developer Deirdre Foley, has held numerous discussions with Apple over several months.

“Apple has not announced a store for this location,” said the technology giant, in response to queries yesterday over its talks with the owners of Clerys.

It is understood, however, that no deal has been agreed and Apple has not committed to opening an Apple Store in Dublin.

Yet several sources have said Natrium continue to pursue an agreement with Apple, which is famed for its upscale, destination retail outlets in high-profile locations.

If Natrium, which is financially backed by Cheyne Capital from London, succeeded in tempting Apple to open a major retail outlet in Dublin, it would represent a considerable coup for the developers.

It is understood that other retailers, such as Sports Direct, have previously run the rule over the Clerys site. But Apple would bring a level of exclusivity to the overall development

There is currently an Apple Store in Belfast, but none in the republic. Apple’s stores are renowned for their expensive fit-outs and are often used more as branding vehicles than simply retail outlets.

Many stores include tech-support desks called branded Genius Bar, and many store openings are characterised by intense marketing and public interest.

Company filings for Apple show it has about 463 Apple Stores worldwide, and leases 5.3 million sq feet of retail space. It says it typically signs for leases for up to 10 years, and spent $794 million on rent last year.

If Apple does choose to open an Apple Store in Dublin, where retail sales are growing strongly, it would give it a major presence in the capital to go with its proposed data centre in Galway and its large support centre in Cork.

The Clerys site has become synonymous with controversey over the overnight sale and subsequent closure of the site last June, locking out more than 400 employees of Clerys and its concession holders.

Ms Foley’s consortium is working on a proposal for Dublin planners for the scheme, although Dublin City Council’s online records appear to show that no formal application has yet been made.

Ms Foley registered a new company linked to Natrium, OCS Regeneration, in January. Its directors include Raphael Smadja, a property specialist with Cheyne.

It is thought that the developers want to instal retail on the ground floor of Clerys, with offices above.

Meanwhile, the Government will on Friday submit a new batch of documents to the Europeam Commission’s investigation into Apple’s tax arrangements in Ireland. The Department of Finance onfirmed yesterday that the commisison has requested extra documents

Michael Noonan, the Minister for Finance, has indicated he believes the probe is dragging on, but he expects a final ruling this year.