Over 600 jobs saved at B&Q Ireland as examiners plan accepted

Tuesday 07 May 2013 22.13
High Court approves examiner's plan for B&Q chain in Ireland
High Court approves examiner's plan for B&Q chain in Ireland

The High Court has approved the examiner's recommendations for DIY chain B&Q Ireland.

Under the scheme, which sees over €2.4m in new investment by parent company Kingfisher, B&Q Ireland will continue to trade at eight stores nationwide.

The decision means 640 jobs have been secured.

The group's rescue plan included the closure of its Waterford store, which closed last week, with the loss of 47 jobs.

Another four stores had also been under threat, including its outlet in Athlone, but these will now remain open.

B&Q Ireland sought the appointment of an examiner in January in an effort to save the business, which had been significantly loss-making due to the deterioration of the economy and "unsustainable rents".

"B&Q Ireland employees have had a challenging three months, and so today's encouraging plan is a great relief," said Brian Mooney, chairman of B&Q Ireland.

"There is huge regret that the Waterford store was not viable, but, for the rest of the business, we look confidently forward to a sustainable future.

"We are more committed than ever to our operations in Ireland, and our loyal customers and employees."

B&Q has operated in Ireland since 2002 and has outlets in Athlone, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Naas and at three locations in Dublin - Swords, Liffey Valley and Tallaght.

Mr Mooney said there has been no change to B&Q workers' contracts after today's decision.

'A great day for the retail industry'

Retail Excellence Ireland chief executive David Fitzsimons told RTÉ's News At One that most international retailers operating in Ireland are loss-making and could legitimately make an application to the courts to enter examinership.

He made his comments after fashion retailer Pamela Scott secured 137 jobs at 12 stores after upward-only rent clauses were removed, and the B&Q development.

Mr Fitzsimons said that the High Court's endorsement of the downward review of rents in both cases represented "a great day for the retail industry" and for jobs in the industry.

He said the move had undone what he called aggressive and unsustainable retail increases over the years.

Mr Fitzsimons pointed out that between 2000 and 2007 consumer prices rose by 30%, but at the same time commercial rents rose by 240%.

"Obviously that was untenable and today's determination has undone some of that and secured two great retailers and secured that they continue to trade in the Republic of Ireland," he said.

He said the move was more likely to benefit larger retailers, as examinership can be a costly process to enter.

"Today's determination is good for larger retailers who will look at examinership as an option as a result," he said.

Northern Ireland pub group enters administration

Separately, the largest pub group in Northern Ireland has gone into administration.

Botanic Inns has 16 bars, including The Bot and the King's Head in Belfast, along with restaurants and hotels.

The business employs 600 people.

Botanic Inns will continue to trade while the administrators seek buyers for all or part of the business.