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Hickey's chain status changed to unlimited

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Hickey's pharmacy

Hickey's pharmacy

Hickey's pharmacy

PRYING eyes will no longer be able to judge the financial health of one of the country's largest chains of pharmacies – Hickey's – after the holding company behind the business, Drishlawn, was re-registered as an unlimited entity.

Becoming an unlimited company means a business doesn't have to file accounts with the Companies Office, so outsiders can't accurately gauge how it might be performing.

However, unlike directors at a limited firm, there's no upper limit on the personal liability of shareholders in an unlimited firm to the company's debt.

New filings at the Companies Office indicate that Drishlawn was re-registered as an unlimited firm just this week.

Last month, accounts filed by the company for the financial period to the end of February last year, showed that it made a €7.4m operating profit. That was just 1pc lower than the previous financial year. Sales in the latest reported period declined 1pc to €46.3m.

Family-owned Hickey's operates 30 pharmacies, with 17 of those in Dublin. The company's directors are Patrick Hickey, John Lanigan and Stephen Butler.

Hickeys said in the accounts that some of the rents the group is paying are "excessive and unviable".

It warned: "These excessive rents represent a threat to the business as it is currently structured.

The company is engaging with landlords and with its advisers to achieve the necessary restructuring of excessive lease costs, and it is optimistic that this will be successful."

The Hickey's chain employs about 300 people.

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