New chapter for book seller after rescue bid by investors
Published 22/05/2010 | 05:00
book-seller Hughes & Hughes has thrown open its doors once more, three months after the shutters came down.
The 25-year-old chain looked set to be consigned to the history books in February when Ulster Bank sent in a receiver and closed the stores down.
But yesterday, Hughes & Hughes's stores in Dundrum, Swords, Santry and Ennis were all open for business, while stores in Dun Laoghaire and St Stephen's Green are expected to re-open in the near future.
The chain has been brought back from the brink by a group of investors, including prominent horse-racing figure Pierce Molony, who already owns the 18-strong chain of Bus Stop newsagents.
The investors were brought together by Hughes & Hughes founder Derek Hughes, who hopes to save six of his former stores, potentially saving close to 100 jobs.
Staff at the flagship Dundrum Town Centre shop yesterday confirmed that their store was staying open.
"This is not temporary, we're open for a good," a delighted member of staff said.
The fresh chapter in Hughes & Hughes's history is also confirmed on a new website, www.hughesbooks.com, which reveals that a new company, Sivota Ltd, has "purchased some of the assets of the former Hughes & Hughes Ltd".
Companies' office records show Sivota is owned by Mr Molony and his Bus Stop partner Aidan Masterson, though it is thought that other investors may also be involved.
The Dublin Hughes & Hughes stores that have already re-opened include those in Dundrum Town Centre, the Pavilions Centre in Swords and the Omni Centre in Santry. The Hughes & Hughes in Ennis, Co Clare, has also re-opened.
Negotiations were proceeding this week on the big Hughes & Hughes shops in the Stephen's Green Centre and in Dun Laoghaire, and both could be back in business shortly.
Although the receiver refused to comment yesterday, it seems likely at present that the Stephen's Green store will reopen under the Hughes & Hughes banner, but the Dun Laoghaire store may reopen as a branch of Easons.
Hughes & Hughes left debts of almost €15m when it collapsed in February, blaming the rise in online book sales. Easons took over and re-branded the Hughes & Hughes shops at Dublin and Cork airports in March, saving 120 of the chain's 225 jobs.