Business Irish

Sunday 4 December 2016

Dunnes fights bid to make it keep Galway door open

Landlord of shopping centre says supermarket chain must permit access to Eyre Square

Published 05/06/2016 | 02:30

Dunnes Stores seen from Edward Square
Dunnes Stores seen from Edward Square

Dunnes Stores is fighting a High Court bid to compel it to keep open the doors of its Edward Square Shopping Centre store in Galway, which allows pedestrian access to the nearby Eyre Square.

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Dunnes, the anchor tenant at the six-unit shopping centre concourse - which has multiple entrances and exits - says there is no 'keep open' clause in its lease with landlords Camiveo. A keep-open clause is an obligation in a lease requiring a tenant to trade continuously from the premises throughout the term and is designed to ensure shopping centre units are occupied and open for business.

However, Camiveo, which last year secured an interlocutory (temporary) injunction, preventing Dunnes from closing its doors, claims that even though there is no keep-open clause, Dunnes is obliged to comply with planning permission, which it says was designed to create connectivity between different parts of the city centre.

Granting the temporary injunction last year, High Court Judge Mr Justice Brian McGovern said that the point was not whether Dunnes was obliged to keep the store open at all times or at particular times but rather whether the doors should be used as a means of ingress to and egress from the store during its trading hours.

The latest keep-open dispute, which will be heard on Tuesday, is being closely followed by landlords.

Earlier this year, an application by the owners of Carlow Shopping Centre lost an interlocutory injunction to prevent anchor tenant Musgraves from terminating its lease.

Thomas Thompson Holdings Ltd sought an injunction to prevent Musgraves from closing its Supervalu store as it was in breach of the keep-open covenant in the lease.

The owners claimed that closure would cause "irrevocable and irreparable" damage to the shopping centre owners and other tenants in the centre.

However, Musgraves, whose SuperValu store had replaced the former anchor tenant Superquinn and was trading at a loss, claimed that it would continue to incur significant losses if it was forced to trade.

However, the High Court, which was reluctant to force a company trading at a loss to continue, refused the injunction pending a specific performance action.

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