Arnotts will close Jervis Centre store after escaping lease
DEPARTMENT store giant Arnotts has extricated itself from a 25-year lease for its store in Dublin's Jervis Centre.
The news, which will see the store close on March 7, was confirmed to staff yesterday. Arnotts was just three years into the lease and is believed to have been paying more than €2.2m in annual rent to developer Paddy McKillen.
A spokesman for the retailer declined to reveal how much Arnotts paid to get out of the lease, but property sources suggested a substantial sum was likely to have changed hands.
The news comes just days after Arnotts finalised a €260m refinancing deal with its banks and drew down €11m in working capital.
Arnotts is understood to have been trying to get out of the 90,000sqft Jervis premises for a number of months in a bid to lower its overheads.
It is understood that a breakthrough was reached when Mr McKillen secured a tenant, believed to be UK retailer New Look, for a 35,000sqft tranche of the site.
An Arnotts spokesman yesterday said the company would "do its best" to relocate some of the Jervis Centre staff to the Henry Street store.
The Jervis site employs the equivalent of 52 full-time workers out of Arnotts' total staff of 750.
The spokesman said it was "too early to say" how many jobs would ultimately be lost as a result of the Jervis closure. Talks with trade union Mandate are understood to have already begun.
Jervis is home to the Arnotts project store, which stocks a range of fashion brands including Oasis, French Connection, Lipsy, Benefit and Pandora.
The retailer is expected to move most if not all of the brands to its Henry Street premises.
Arnotts store manoeuvres come as it continues to pursue plans for the North Quarter development which would dwarf the existing stores.
Arnotts originally expected to begin construction on the €1bn project in 2008, but the development is still going through the planning stages and the retailer's chief executive David Riddiford has admitted that ground is unlikely to be broken before 2011.