Business The Punt

Friday 28 October 2016

The Punt: Elverys Sports is back fighting fit

Published 16/06/2015 | 02:30

Elverys Sports
Elverys Sports

Elverys Sports, one of the best-known sports retail chains in the country, yesterday announced 40 new jobs and a new store in St Stephen's Green as part of a €1.5m nationwide investment.

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The announcement marks a significant turnaround for the chain, which barely a year ago exited examinership after a hotly-contested tug of war for control of the firm.

The company, which sells sports apparel, inset, and equipment, is headquartered in Castlebar, Co Mayo. It entered the examinership process and was granted protection from its creditors in February of last year.

Fears emerged that 10 of the company's 67 stores in Ireland could be shut as the group sought rent reductions to return it to profitability.

However a Management Buy Out (MBO) headed up by Elverys' managing director, Patrick Rowland, beat off stiff competition from five other bidders for the business, including Sports Direct, owned by UK billionaire Mike Ashley, who also owns Newcastle United. Over 650 jobs were secured.

The company now appears to be in better shape and is investing in its retail network and online platform.

The Taoiseach was on hand to "commend Elverys on the announcement".

Always a good sign.

Celtic Tiger man's mantra

The man who's credited with coining the phrase 'Celtic Tiger' back in 1994 to describe Ireland's then impending stellar growth levels believes the same elements that existed then that helped build his analysis remain.

And that's our workforce.

Kevin Gardiner is now a global investment strategist with financial advisory services provider Rothschild.

He told the annual conference of the Federation of International Banks in Ireland in Dublin yesterday that the availability of an educated and dynamic workforce is one of Ireland's greatest selling points.

"By a mile, [Ireland has] the most flexible workforce that I have seen in any developed economy."

Mr Gardiner said that during the height of the crisis, Ireland was as "collectively overly pessimistic as it was overly optimistic in the noughties".

"The original Celtic Tiger in the paper, was nothing to do with house prices, it was nothing to do with bank credit, and we didn't know that there would be a single currency and Ireland would be part of it.

"It had everything to do with very robust domestically generated growth rates that came from the supply side, foreign direct investment, a welcome approach and that tremendously adept and flexible workforce.

"And they didn't go away."

Killen gets shot in the arm

Remember Gerry Killen? He was the dissident shareholder at investment group One51, who in 2010 battled the board, including then chief executive Philip Lynch, in an effort to force change at the company.

The AGM that year was a lengthy and raucous affair, but Mr Lynch held onto his position nonetheless.

But a year later Lynch was removed by the board.

At any rate, Killen is still working at what he knows, and is the founder and boss of Global Green Composites, a company that makes reinforced plastics.

Its projects have included roofing panels for temporary buildings used at the London Olympics.

The Punt sees that the company has received some fresh investment - a total of €250,000.

Half of that has been stumped up by Dublin-based pharmacist Brian McCartan. He and his wife own six pharmacies.

The remainder has been provided by pharmacist Paddy Digan. He was one of a number of investors who in 2011 sued BDO for €20m for alleged negligence in relation to a Polish property deal. Dignan and his wife had stuffed €3m into the soured deal. BDO denied the charges.

Digan and McCartan are now both directors of Killen's firm.

Irish Independent

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