Takeover rumours wide of the mark as Arnotts


REPORTS IN recent days linking Arnotts with a takeover approach by The Michael Flacks Group in Monte Carlo appear to have had the retailer’s chairman Mark Schwartz scratching his head in bemusement.

As the American tells it, there has been no approach to Arnotts. “None and I wouldn’t entertain it,” he told me from his Boston base yesterday. “We are trying to build for the future to position ourselves for whenever the growth happens. We are trying to be productive to improve the business and improve our margins.”

Schwartz said Arnotts was “trading well” although he declined to be more precise.

“We’re cash-flow positive and making money.”

He said women’s fashions were performing “very well”, menswear was doing “nicely”, while trading at its various restaurants and cafe were “phenomenal”.

“We would like to be a little bit stronger on furniture and the home side, but that reflects the economy,” he added.

Upmarket American fashion retailer Brooks Brothers recently opened a concession in Arnotts, while a new “shoe garden” for women is almost completed.

Clodagh McKenna is also preparing to open a second restaurant in the department store.

Schwartz runs Palladin Capital, which was appointed by the retailer’s lenders, Irish Bank Resolution Corporation and Ulster Bank, to advise on Arnotts.

Schwartz acknowledges that there will be corporate activity in Arnotts at some point in the future. Clearly the banks don’t want to own this business forever. However, he insists that any move is some time off.

“It’s not for sale at the moment because we think that the value that has been created is such that it would be short-sighted to entertain selling the company now.”