MORE than half the jobs at collapsed Celtic Bookmakers will be saved as rival bookies move in to buy viable parts of the business, the Irish Independent has learnt.
The company, which was headed up by politician-turned-bookie Ivan Yates, went into receivership earlier this month owing Allied Irish Banks more than €6m and putting 237 jobs in jeopardy.
However, industry sources said the majority of those roles would be salvaged when the business was sold off to competing bookmakers like Paddy Power and Boylesports over the next two weeks.
It is understood that receiver Neil Hughes, from accountancy firm Hughes Blake, has received 44 expressions of interest in the business and it will almost certainly be sold off piecemeal rather than as a going concern.
There are more than 40 Celtic Bookmakers shops around the country -- 11 in Dublin, seven in Tipperary and others in counties like Waterford, Cork, Limerick and Galway.
Two shops have closed since the receiver was put in place -- one in Raheny, Dublin, and the other in Naas, Co Kildare -- with the loss of six jobs.
"It looks like over half the jobs can be saved -- there has been a lot of interest in this since the receivership," a source said. "Some interest is from the bigger shops but small operators have also made enquiries about some of the more marginal locations." While the receiver's main job is to recoup the money owed to the bank, he is also trying to salvage as much of the collapsed Celtic Bookmakers as possible.
Revenues at the group fell by 50pc since mid-2007 as punters put on much smaller bets and the business came under pressure from bigger competitors as the recession gripped.
Despite cutting costs at the firm from €17m to €12m, Mr Yates was left with no choice but to agree to the break-up of Celtic following the appointment of the receiver.
A decision to expand the business in the 2006 to 2007 period was also ill-judged, Mr Yates admitted in an earlier interview with this newspaper.
He also faces losing the family home outside Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, unless he can come up with a payment plan that satisfies AIB because more than €5m of the debt was personally guaranteed by Mr Yates.
A presenter of the 'Breakfast Show' on Newstalk, Mr Yates returned to the radio station yesterday after a number of weeks' absence.
Meanwhile, up to 15 jobs have been lost after a music chain went into voluntary liquidation. Zhivago Music Shops in Galway said it was forced to close as business was badly hit by the growth in internet downloading.
And 20 jobs are to go at building firm Tom Hayes Ltd, which has gone into liquidation.
The move comes after the company, based in Killaloe, Co Clare, suffered losses of €1.7m.