CLERYS declined to comment yesterday amid reports that the iconic Dublin department store could be sold this week.
The Irish Independent reported last month that the Guiney family, which owns the shop on the capital's O'Connell Street, has been engaged in month-long talks that could lead to a potential sale or investment.
Boston-based investment firm Gordon Brothers is involved in the talks, along with Bank of Ireland.
A spokesman for the department store operator said in August that the Guiney family had held a number of negotiations in recent months with various interested investors.
Gordon Brothers has an extensive track record in advising and investing in mature and distressed businesses. It conducts over $50bn (€40bn) worth of transactions and appraisals every year, according to its website. A spokeswoman for Gordon Brothers did not respond to queries yesterday.
It has been reported that Gordon Brothers would be willing to pay as much as €14m to acquire about €26m of debt owned by Clerys to BoI.
Much of that debt was amassed as the retailer undertook a store rejuvenation and acquired sites that it had planned to use to extend the premises on O'Connell Street.
Clerys also owns three home furnishings stores, in Leopardstown and Blanchardstown in Dublin, and in Naas, Co Kildare.
The outlet on the capital's main thoroughfare was one of the world's first purpose-built department stores when it opened in 1853.
It has been owned by the Guiney family since 1941.
But it's been struggling during the downturn. Latest publicly available accounts for the business, for the year to the end of January 2010, show it made a €2m loss in that period. That compared with a €1.87m loss a year earlier.
Excluding concession sales, Clerys own net sales fell 19pc to €17.4m. The company has cut staff working hours to contain costs.
Eoin McGettigan, the former head of Musgrave's UK operations, was appointed chairman at Clerys last year.