West jewellers to close this weekend

 

ONE OF Dublin’s oldest jewellers, West of Grafton Street, will close its doors for the last time this weekend, its manager said yesterday.

This followed claims by staff that they still had not been notified of the closing date, after almost three months of a closing-down sale.

The three employees, who have 93-years service between them, had sought a redundancy package but were told they would get only statutory redundancy payments.

Mandate, which represents the staff, said it was “very frustrated and disappointed” with the way the workers had been treated and it urged the firm to engage with it on a redundancy package.

Mandate industrial officer David Moran said the union had requested on several occasions during the past few months to meet the company to discuss redundancy payments and procedures but it had not responded.

He said the three workers had given very loyal service to the company during good times and bad. It was Mandate’s understanding that the company was financially comfortable “and can afford to pay much more”.

The fine-jewellery retailer has been trading on and off in Dublin for 290 years. It first opened as West Sons on Capel Street in 1720. In 1845, the firm moved to College Green and then to 102 Grafton Street. In 1965 it relocated to its current premises at 33 Grafton Street, on the junction of South Anne Street.

Companies Office records show that West is now controlled by Joe Moran of Manor Park Homes, while Geraldine L’Estrange West holds a minority stake. The most recent accounts filed show the firm had revenue reserves of €367,046 at April 30th, 2008.

Mr Moran was out of the country yesterday and was not available for comment.

West began its closing down sale several weeks before Christmas and staff said they went from week to week not knowing when it would close.

Yesterday, the manager of the shop Robert Halpin said West was “definitely” closing this weekend.

He said he was not prepared to discuss the closing down arrangements “but what I can say is that the staff are being treated quite properly and fairly”.

He said the redundancy payments were also being awarded in the correct fashion. He said he would also like to have seen a better package but “this is not a rich firm. That’s why we are closing down”.

West has always attracted a wealthy clientele and had links with Queen Victoria. It made the original chain of office for Dublin’s Lord Mayor in 22-carat gold and also made a replica which is often used.

The shop looked like it was nearing closure yesterday, with four of its six windows empty of displays. A sign in the window said it was selling its entire collection of fine jewellery and watches for half price.