Thai franchise operator to hold meeting of creditors


LEMONGRASS, THE Asian-themed restaurant franchise operation controlled by beleaguered entrepreneur Emmet Memery, is to hold a creditors’ meeting later this month, as will four other companies in which Mr Memery has significant interests.

Notices published yesterday in the Irish Daily Starand the Irish Examinerindicated that meetings of creditors of Lemongrass FF Kilcullen, Pulse Communications, Parbind, Aberwell Trading and Ecock Wines Spirits will take place in the Mount Herbert Hotel in Dublin 4 on June 19th, for the purposes mentioned in Section 267 and 268 of the Companies Act.

The notice of a creditors’ meeting is often an indication that a company is in financial difficulty.

Section 267 and 268 of the Companies Act relate to the appointment of a liquidator.

Attempts to contact Mr Memery yesterday to clarify the situation were unsuccessful.

This development represents the latest blow to Mr Memery’s diverse business interests.

Last month, Cellular Services, the holding company behind Mr Memery’s telecoms company Oyster, collapsed.

Oyster Telecom posted pretax profits in 2007 of €2.4 million. It had been Vodafone’s largest independent agent in Ireland. However, it lost its contract with Vodafone in December.

This long-standing relationship had accounted for two-thirds of Oyster’s turnover of about €47 million in 2007.

Although Mr Memery secured a deal in February with rival mobile operator 3 to sell its mobile broadband services through the group’s chain of retail outlets, Cellular Services went into liquidation in May.

Lemongrass reportedly contributed €2.4 million in turnover to the Oyster group in 2007.

The first Lemongrass outlet opened in Naas in 2001 and a chain of restaurants was subsequently built up across the country.

Mr Memery took control of the franchise operation in 2007.

A number of franchisees have left the main chain in recent months.

A spokeswoman for the Lemongrass restaurant in Dublin’s Liffey Valley said yesterday that the outlet now operates independently, having left the franchise about two months ago.

Two restaurants owned by Niall Browne, including the original Lemongrass in Naas, and another outlet in Citywest Hotel, also left the chain after Christmas.

The two restaurants have now been rebranded as Asia De Brún.

ENTREPRENEUR Emmet Memery’s diverse business interests range from timber to telecoms, and asian cuisine to vineyards.

Memery is best known for his Oyster Telecom group, which operated a chain of more than 20 phone stores around the country. However, Cellular Services, the holding company behind Oyster, went into liquidation in May, four months after losing its contract with Vodafone.

The Oyster group also owns timber milling operations in Russia, the Papillon wine distribution company and the Lemongrass restaurant franchise operation in Ireland, and vineyards in South Africa. It was also involved in developing property in Ireland, Britain, Latvia and South Africa.

Oyster had two large property development projects under way in Latvia, and had been granted planning permission to build a €120 million mixed development at a site in Finglas.