O’Gorman children get shares in Kilkenny Group as part of settlement

Family dispute began after Marian O’Gorman sacked her son as marketing director

Marian O’Gorman and her son, Greg.

Marian O’Gorman and her son, Greg.

 

The children of Kilkenny Group owner and chief executive Marian O’Gorman are to get shares in the business as part of the settlement of a bitter family row over the luxury retail group’s ownership.

The dispute, between Ms O’Gorman and her son, the group’s former marketing director, Greg O’Gorman, began after she sacked him in 2016. He instigated legal proceedings against his mother, alleging she had breached an agreement that would have given him ownership of 25 per cent of the business.

The company announced this month that the High Court case was “resolved to the satisfaction of all parties”, but it declined to provide any further details.

Kilkenny, which employs 300 and has sales of about €30 million, is owned by Clydaville Investments, which is 100 per cent controlled by Ms O’Gorman.

The settlement involves the creation of a new holding company for the business, Clydaville Holdings.

It is understood that the four children of Ms O’Gorman, including Greg with whom she had been in dispute, and also his siblings, Michelle, Melissa and Christopher, will each get shares in the new holding company.

Ms O’Gorman’s company will also make a contribution towards the legal costs incurred by her children in association with the legal case and also as part of the transaction by which they will acquire shares in the business.

Documents signed by Ms O’Gorman and Conor Lynch, Kilkenny’s finance director, say the agreement is being entered into to provide for “orderly succession planning for the ownership of the company”.

Ms O’Gorman has separately established a new holding company for her own assets, Yellow Shoots. She and Mr Lynch are also directors in the new holding company for Clydaville.

When asked to comment on the deal to give the O’Gorman children a stake in the business, Kilkenny Group declined to comment. Greg O’Gorman also declined to comment on the settlement.

‘Humiliating manner’

In an earlier court hearing during the case prior to its settlement, Mr O’Gorman had alleged his mother sacked him in a “humiliating manner” at a family meeting more than two years ago. He had worked in the business for 13 years.

He alleged in his action that she publicly repudiated a prior agreement to hold the Kilkenny Group in trust for him and his three siblings.

Mr O’Gorman had said that the business, which comprises about 15 retail outlets dotted around the State and two restaurants in Cork, was worth about €50 million, and so the stake he was allegedly deprived of was €12.5 million.

Mr O’Gorman and his mother made several unsuccessful attempts at mediation over the dispute, after a High Court judge told the pair to try to find a solution outside of court.

The case, in which Mr O’Gorman’s three siblings were notice parties and not themselves litigants, returned to the court earlier this year and appeared set for hearing in October, before it was suddenly settled in the first week of August.