Penneys puts plan for new store in Dundrum Town Centre on hold

Move to take two floors in centre paused as fashion chain reviews spending plans

Penneys confirmed that its negotiations to take space in Dublin’s Dundrum Town Centre now occupied by British chain House of Fraser are on hold. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Penneys confirmed that its negotiations to take space in Dublin’s Dundrum Town Centre now occupied by British chain House of Fraser are on hold. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

 

Fashion chain Penneys has put on hold talks to take two floors in the Republic’s biggest shopping centre as it grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Penneys – known as Primark outside the State – last week said it would suspend rent payments on its 37 Irish stores as it shut along with all other retailers deemed “non essential”.

The company confirmed that its negotiations to take space in Dublin’s Dundrum Town Centre now occupied by British chain House of Fraser are on hold as it is reviewing all spending plans in light of the current situation.

Priority

“Our current priority is to support our people and the business through this pandemic and we look forward to resuming business as usual as soon as possible once our stores reopen,” a Penneys/Primark spokeswoman added.

It emerged last month that Penneys was in advanced talks to take two of the floors occupied by House of Fraser, owned by Sports Direct.

That company is vacating Dundrum after failing to agree a deal with the shopping mall’s owners, UK firm landlord Hammerson and insurer Allianz.

Penneys’ proposed move to the House of Fraser premises would have expanded its presence in Dundrum.

The chain was understood to be planning to close its existing shop there, which is in a smaller unit, once it moved to the House of Fraser property.

Brown Thomas, another well-known Irish department store chain, intends taking the lease for the ground floor and lower ground floor of the House of Fraser shop.

It is understood that Brown Thomas still intends taking the space, but the pandemic may affect the timing of that.

Dundrum Town Centre on Dublin’s southside is the Republic’s biggest shopping mall.

Restrictions

Government restrictions allowing only essential stores to remain open to stall the spread of coronavirus mean that many of its retailers have had to shut their doors.

In a statement this week, Hammerson, co-owner of other centres in the capital, including the Ilac and Swords Pavilion, said that just 25 shops in its Irish properties, accounting for 8 per cent of passing rent, remained open.

The company said it had received 16 per cent of rent due to it from Irish tenants in the second quarter and indicated that it was in talks with retailers here.

Hammerson added that it was too early to quantify the impact of the coronavirus closures on its business in the Republic.

Commercial landlords believe closing non-essential stores could hit rent payments.

Many are understood to be in talks with tenants in an effort to navigate through the coronavirus crisis.

Associated British Foods owns Penneys/Primark, which has more than 370 stores in 12 countries.