Business Irish

Tuesday 12 November 2019

Clock ticks down for Clerys

FROM bailed-out banks to well-known businesses teetering on the brink of extinction, the past few years have been somewhat of an economic nuclear winter. Cosy reminders of times gone by continue to be swept aside.

No more so, perhaps, than in the sale of Clerys to US investment group Gordon Brothers. The venerable department store has graced O'Connell Street in one form or another for 150 years.

Crippling borrowings amassed to revamp the store and buy adjacent property were the real Achilles heel, though. Lower debt levels (it owed Bank of Ireland €26m), might have enabled it to muddle through the bad times. But that's irrelevant now.

Gordon Brothers will bring change, but it won't hang on to Clerys forever. Its aim is to improve the business and it will eventually seek a buyer for it.

The big question, then, will be who will buy it? In 2008, privately owned British department store John Lewis signalled its intention to build its first outlet outside the UK, in Dublin.

But that was reliant on a sweeping redevelopment on O'Connell Street.

Would buying Clerys be a future option? Maybe, maybe not. But nothing can be ruled out these days.

Irish Independent

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