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Friday 29 August 2014

Troubled McElhinneys store allowed to trade for Christmas

Published 11/12/2013 | 18:46

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Last March, Bank of Ireland (BOI) appointed Barry Forrest as receiver over McElhinney's Department Store
Last March, Bank of Ireland (BOI) appointed Barry Forrest as receiver over McElhinney's Department Store

A TROUBLED department store is to be allowed to continue trading for Christmas, the High Court heard.

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A bank-appointed receiver to McElhinneys of Athboy, Co Meath is prepared to enter into an agreement allowing the operators of the well-known women's fashion outlet continue to trade for the festive season.

Previously, the High Court heard the long-established retailer faces closure with the loss of 40 jobs if the receiver secures possession of the premises. Those workers are on protective notice.

Last March, Bank of Ireland (BOI) appointed Barry Forrest as receiver over McElhinney's Department Store, McElhinney's Bridal Shop and a property known as Guinans, all in the town's Main Street.

The appointment came after the owners of the properties, various members of the Sweeney family, failed to repay loans of some €2.34m.

Mr Forrest is seeking injunctions granting him and his agents possession and entry to the properties which had been denied to him.

The proceedings are against McElhinney Fashions Limited, which operates the business, as well as the owners of the properties, Neal Sweeney, Aonghus Sweeney, Elizabeth Sweeney and Mary Sweeney..

The injunction application is opposed.

Neal Sweeney, who is the general manager of the stores, has brought related proceedings challenging the validity of the receivers appointment by BOI.

When the matter came before Mr Justice Paul Gilligan yesterday, the court heard  a firm of solicitors had only come on record for the company and for Neal Sweeney.

They now needed time to deal with what they said was a bona fide defence to the receiver's claim.

Lawyers for the receivers had asked that the application for the injunctions proceed because there was an urgency to the matter.

The court also heard the receiver, if successful in his bid to obtain the injunctions, was prepared to enter an agreement allowing the company to continue to trade during the Christmas period.

The receiver is also prepared to talk to the company about the prospect of the the company buying the premises.

The case was adjourned for a week.

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