Saturday 21 July 2018

Former Lough Erne owner eyes €25m SuperValu store

Taoiseach Enda Kenny with British Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama at the Lough Erne Resort for the G8 Summit in 2013. Photo: PA.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny with British Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama at the Lough Erne Resort for the G8 Summit in 2013. Photo: PA.
SuperValu in Churchtown. Picture:Arthur Carron/Collins
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Businessman Jim Treacy, the former owner of the high-profile Lough Erne Resort in Northern Ireland, is vying to regain control of one of the busiest SuperValu stores in the country, for over €10m, the Irish Independent has learned.

He's locked in talks with Musgrave, the owner of the SuperValu brand, which bought the flagship store at Churchtown in Dublin out of receivership in 2011.

Mr Treacy lost control of the store - estimated to have annual sales of around €25m - in May 2011 after Bank of Scotland (Ireland) had a receiver appointed to it. His family owned and operated it for nearly 30 years.

Mr Treacy - highly regarded in the retail trade - had used the store to guarantee borrowings linked to the Lough Erne Resort in Co Fermanagh.

Golfer Rory McIlroy was among those who played at the resort's golf course, which was designed by Nick Faldo. Mr McIlroy was also at one time the resort's official touring professional.

In 2013, the Lough Erne retreat also hosted the G8 summit, with world leaders including Barack Obama, David Cameron and Vladimir Putin descending on the complex.

Mr Treacy had spent about a decade developing the £30m (€41m) resort, using about £10m of his own money.

Bank of Scotland announced in 2010 that it was leaving the Irish market. It suddenly called in about £21m in loans attached to the resort, a move criticised by Mr Treacy at the time.

He said the resort was profitable then and claimed Bank of Scotland was "immoral" for not taking a long-term view of the business.

A receiver was appointed to the resort by the bank. It also put the SuperValu business in receivership because it had been used to guarantee the resort's loans.

The resort was sold last month to US investors Vine Avenue Advisors for €8.4m.

Musgrave paid €10.2m for the trading business of the SuperValu store in Dublin, according to a receiver's report, and also acquired the premises in which it's located, it's understood, making for a total outlay of over €12m.

It was the first SuperValu store that Musgrave bought, with its chain typically operated by franchisees rather than the group, which also controls brands including Centra. SuperValu is currently battling with Tesco for dominance of Ireland's multi-billion euro grocery market.

Mr Treacy, who declined to comment, has been running the Churchtown store for Musgrave since the group acquired it. It's believed to be performing very well.

With the general economic environment having improved, it wouldn't be surprising if he has to fork out considerably more for the SuperValu business than what Musgrave paid for it.

A spokesman for Musgrave said the group does not comment on speculation.

However, the Irish Independent understands that Mr Treacy has been in initial talks with the group for the past number of weeks with a view to first buying back the trading business, and ultimately the property in which it's based.

Irish Independent

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