Inside Project Evergreen: Arnotts
THE TROUBLES of Dublin's oldest and largest department store, which dates back to 1843, stem from forays into the property market in the years leading up to the recession.
The store accumulated at least €300m worth of loans from Anglo and Ulster Bank to fund the purchase of several properties in the Abbey Street area of Dublin where its flagship outlet is based.
It had ambitious new plans to develop this 5.5 acre block into a state-of-the-art shopping, entertainment and residential hub, known as the Northern Quarter, proposing a massive €750m redevelopment.
The project was the brainchild of the store's former majority owner, the barrister Richard Nesbitt. Disputes over the plans prompted the departure of the O'Connor family, who had been involved with the firm since the 1970s but sold their 24.75pc stake in 2007.
Then the property crash hit. Arnotts managed to reach a debt restructuring deal with Anglo and Ulster Bank in 2010 but this only delayed the inevitable, and later that year, as the retail market plummeted, it was taken over by the banks.