AT LEAST 100 jobs are at risk after the Irish arm of hardware chain B&Q sought court protection from its creditors.
Stores in Athlone and Waterford – which employ 92 staff between them – would close under a proposed restructuring. The chain, part of the UK's Kingfisher group, has also earmarked two more unnamed outlets for likely closure.
B&Q employs close to 700 people in nine stores in Ireland, 500 of whom are part-time. Declan McDonald of PWC was appointed the interim examiner in the High Court yesterday.
The Irish unit made a €3.5m pre-tax loss in the financial year to January 2012. In the financial year that ended yesterday, B&Q reckons losses at its Irish business rocketed to €10m.
But when additional costs are factored in, that loss is expected to soar to €20.5m.
"Losses in the Irish market can no longer be sustained," B&Q said. "It is hoped that a restructuring via examinership will provide the potential for survival of some part of the business."
The company said it would need to consider exiting property leases and closing uneconomic stores. It will close "at least" the two stores in Waterford and Athlone.
"Management considers it likely that a further two stores will be closed," said B&Q.
Aside from the outlets in Waterford and Athlone, B&Q has stores in Cork, Galway, Limerick and Naas, as well as three in Dublin, at Swords, Liffey Valley and Tallaght.
Sales at the Irish B&Q stores in the 12 months to today totalled €84m. That's 11pc lower than the €94.2m in revenue that they generated in the previous financial year – which was itself nearly 10pc down on the 2011 financial year. B&Q said all vouchers, credit notes and deposits would be honoured.
Meanwhile an interim examiner has been appointed to a chain of Dublin city-centre convenience stores, which employ 29 full- and part-time staff.
Chef's Cafes Ltd has a registered address at Upper Liffey Street Dublin 1.
Three of the firm's stores operate under the brand 'Gala Express', while one operates under the Mace brand. The fifth store operates under the business name 'The City Gem'.
The stores are located in the Ilac Shopping Centre, Lower Abbey Street and O'Connell Street.