Elverys tycoon leads investors in €12m purchase of Cork’s former Debenhams shop

John Staunton among consortium that has acquired the landmark property at 12-17 St Patrick’s Street

A consortium of private investors involving John Staunton, a member of the Mayo family connected to the Intersports Elvery Sports retail chain, has acquired Debenhams’ former premises in Cork city.

While news of the deal and its terms have been kept firmly under wraps, The Irish Times understands the consortium has paid about €12 million for the landmark property at 12-17 St Patrick’s Street. The building had been seeking €20 million when it was first put on the market by agent Cushman & Wakefield along with Debenhams’ former premises on Henry Street in Dublin in August of last year.

While the Henry Street property is set to become the Dublin flagship store for its new owners, British billionaire Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct, the future of the Cork building remains unclear at this point. And while it is possible that Intersport Elverys, as it is now known, will occupy a portion of the property, market sources say they expect the remainder of its space to be offered to other prospective occupiers or to undergo redevelopment.

Mr Staunton has been contacted for comment.


The building, designed by Chillingworth & Levie, extends to almost 14,214sq m (152,998sq ft) and operated as Roches Stores for almost a century before the Roche family leased it to Debenhams in 2006. It is described as having a “very impressive facade with its feature copper dome, which is iconic in the city”. It has almost 45m of frontage on to Cork’s “premier shopping street”. In addition, there is return frontage of almost 121m to Maylor Street.

The acquisition of the St Patrick’s Street landmark brings to an end a protracted sale process, involving numerous potential suitors.

A number of parties ran the rule over the property, including Michael O’Flynn’s O’Flynn Group; JCD Group; O’Callaghan Properties; and Clarendon Properties, the company controlled by Tony Leonard and Paddy McKillen. While their interest in the building was to be expected given their long track record of development in the city, the bid by Dublin-based investment firm Ballybunion Capital came as more of a surprise.

The company, which was founded by Patrick O’Sullivan and acquired by Jersey-headquartered JTC Group in 2021, had already hit the headlines last year when it paid €85 million for the mixed-use Point Square scheme in Dublin’s north docklands. The price paid represented a premium of 13 per cent on the €75 million agent Savills had been guiding when it offered the property to the market on behalf of joint statutory receivers Stephen Tennant and Paul McCann of Grant Thornton.

Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan is Property Editor of The Irish Times