independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Examiner appointed to DIY giant Homebase

AN examiner has been confirmed for DIY chain Homebase which now has until September to prepare a survival scheme.

Homebase House & Garden Centre Ltd employs 558 people in 15 stores here, of whom 114 are full-time. Under survival proposals, it may close three stores at Fonthill, Dublin, Carlow and Castlebar, the High Court heard.

There had been two expressions of investor interest in the company, one from a related company in its UK-based group and one independent, Mr Justice Brian McGovern was told yesterday.

Having heard from Rossa Fanning, for the company, that there was no opposition to examinership and on the basis of a report from Kieran Wallace, appointed interim examiner earlier this month, the judge said he was satisfied to confirm Mr Wallace as examiner and to return the matter to September 3rd.

The Revenue Commissioners and solicitors for two landlords adopted a neutral position on the application.

Bernard Dunleavy, for the examiner, said various pre-petition liabilities would be met including pre-paid deliveries. Wages would be paid during the examinership and vouchers for the stores would be honoured, the court heard.

In seeking protection earlier this month, Homebase Ireland said sales had fallen by 31 per cent since 2009 and the business had been unprofitable for each of the last five years despite remedial action taken by management.

It also said its ability to reduce costs had been restricted by the existence of “upward only” rent reviews on its store leases here.

The company is a subsidiary of the UK-owned Home Retail Group which has said the purpose of the examinership is to re-structure Homebase Ireland so as to put the business on a sustainable footing. 

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