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100 jobs axed as shops shut in rents row

More than 100 jobs are to be lost with the closure of several flagship stores at a top Dublin shopping centre in a row over rents.

Employees in Topman, Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, Burtons, Miss Selfridge, Wallis and Evans have been told the outlets will close their doors in Blanchardstown this September.

Trade union Mandate said the future of 104 staff was at risk because of unsustainable rent charges.

Brendan O'Hanlon, from Mandate, claimed the high cost of leasing outlets in the Blanchardstown centre was forcing the shops to shut.

"Obviously staff are shocked and disappointed at this development and Mandate will be engaging with Arcadia to minimise the number of job losses and to negotiate the best possible terms for those who will be made redundant," he said.

Mandate claimed staff had been told the Arcadia group, which controls the businesses, were planning to shut the stores in a row with the centre's management and landlords over rent.

But Joe Gavin, general manager of the Blanchardstown centre, said the landlords have not received any requests for negotiations on new leases which expire in mid-September.

He insisted there have been no discussions about the current rent levels, and claimed Blanchardstown owner Green Property is keen to keep the Arcadia Group in the centre.

"We find it a surprise to hear that," Mr Gavin said.

"We have had absolutely no discussion with Arcadia in relation to rent - no discussion, no communication, no correspondence.

"Green Property is very open to discussing with Arcadia to ensure that these stores remain.

"The centre is doing very well. It's a big shopping centre and draws people from all over the region and there is big demand for stores in the centre."

Mandate said eight retail outlets were intending to close but the shopping centre said there were only five shop units affected.

No-one from Arcadia was available to comment.

Mandate represents 45,000 workers in the retail and bar trades.

Business representative group Retail Ireland claimed job losses because of high rents were deplorable.

Director Torlach Denihan said: "Over 100 employees now face the grim reality of losing their jobs because of unsustainable high rents being charged to retailers.

"Over the last three years retailers have been under increasing pressure to reduce their cost base while commercial landlords have refused to lower rents to reflect the new economic circumstances faced by their tenants.

"Some 50,000 jobs have been lost in the retail sector to date and a fair share of this is due to refusal by landlords to engage with their tenants regarding rent reductions."

PA Media