Wednesday 21 February 2018

Arnotts' profits hold steady as Selfridges readies revamp

Christmas shoppers out in force at Arnotts on Dublin’s Henry Street this week. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Christmas shoppers out in force at Arnotts on Dublin’s Henry Street this week. Photo: Steve Humphreys
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Shoes and jewellery helped to boost the performance at Dublin's iconic Arnotts department store during its last financial year, as revenue rose 2.7pc to €114.2m in the 12 months to January 25, newly-filed accounts for the business show.

Arnotts has since been acquired by international retailer Selfridges, part of the Weston family empire.

The Westons also own Brown Thomas, while the family's interests also include a major stake in Primark owner Associated British Foods.

The accounts for Arnotts Ltd - which don't include the soon to be closed Boyers business - also show that Arnotts made an operating profit of €159,000 in the last fiscal period, compared to a pre-exceptional operating loss of €1.1m in the previous financial year.

The previous financial year had been flattered by a €9.9m exceptional gain in relation to the winding up of a pension scheme.

"The acquisition of the Arnotts business by the Selfridges group has been very well received by customers, employees and suppliers. We are pleased with the performance of the business since the acquisition and sales are well ahead of last year," said new Arnotts managing director Donald McDonald.

The accounts show that the improved awareness of the store's 'Shoe Garden' and Jewellery Hall continued to benefit the business.

The newly-filed accounts for the retailer also note that Selfridges is committed to investing in Arnotts by "enhancing the shopping experience for its customers, upgrading the store environment and introducing new premium brands".

Its online offering "continues to drive significant additional growth", noted the accounts.

During the year and as part of the restructuring of the wider Arnotts group, and the takeover by Selfridges, Arnotts' net asset position has been improved to the tune of €324m. At the end of January this year, it had net liabilities of €280m.

The group had previously been controlled by Ulster Bank and liquidators for Irish Bank Resolution Corporation prior to ownership change

In October, the Irish Independent revealed that Selfridges had spent €103m buying loans connected to the Arnotts business within days of the acquisition being approved by the competition watchdog. Wittington Properties, controlled by the Westons, took control of the Arnotts store in August in a deal with developer Noel Smyth.

That agreement divided the former Arnotts Group between the Westons, who keep and continue to trade the landmark department store, and Noel Smyth's Fitzwilliam company, which gets control of the group's remaining assets.

Irish Independent

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