Tuesday 12 December 2017

Mr Selfridge comes to Henry St as retail giant buys Arnotts

Founded in 1843, Arnotts is one of Ireland’s oldest and largest department stores, occupying a prime location on Henry Street
Founded in 1843, Arnotts is one of Ireland’s oldest and largest department stores, occupying a prime location on Henry Street
Arnotts staff Sara Hollingsworth and Cintia Tanno prepare for the sales
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

The high-end UK retail giant Selfridges has bought iconic department store Arnotts.

The Dublin store is now part of an upmarket group of well-known retail outlets owned by Canadian businessman Galen Weston and his Irish wife Hilary, which includes Brown Thomas, Selfridges in the UK, Holt Renfrew in Canada and de Bijenkorf in the Netherlands.

Founded in 1843, Arnotts is one of Ireland's oldest and largest department stores, occupying a prime location on Henry Street. Selfridges announced last night that it had bought the store from Fitzwilliam Finance Partners for an undisclosed sum.

The UK giant said Arnotts would operate under its existing identity.

Paul Kelly, Selfridges group managing director, said the company will build on the brand. "We have an excellent track record leading retailing in Ireland. Arnotts will benefit from our global retail experience and continual investment," Mr Kelly said.

"Our priority will be to build on the legacy of this great Irish brand and we will look to enhance the customer experience while cherishing Arnotts' unique heritage, which has been an essential part of Dublin's retail landscape for over 170 years."

Wittington Properties, controlled by Brown Thomas owners the Weston Family, took control of the Arnotts store in Dublin city centre in August in a deal with developer Noel Smyth and his Fitzwilliam company.

That agreement divided the former Arnotts Group between the Westons and Noel Smyth's Fitzwilliam company - which got control of the group's remaining assets, including the nearby Boyers store and other properties in the area. After having bought half of the group's loans from its lenders, Mr Smyth's Fitzwilliam Finance Partners had ended up in control of half of Arnotts, with the other half owned by US private equity firm Apollo Global Management.

The Irish and US sides initially vied with each other for full control of the business, until a combined Weston/Smyth team eventually came out on top last summer.

They subsequently agreed to split the Arnotts Group's assets between them.

"We were delighted to support Fitzwilliam Finance Partners and Noel Smyth in the acquisition of the Arnotts Group and we look forward to engaging with Noel in relation to his future plans for the adjacent properties, which Fitzwilliam Finance Partners will continue to own," Mr Kelly said. The Selfridges deal involves Arnotts only.

Mandate Trade Union gave a cautious welcome to the move.

"Arnotts is an iconic Dublin brand and we want to ensure the business is protected and the jobs within the business remain secure," said John Douglas, Mandate General Secretary. "We have met with the company today to explore the future plans for Arnotts and to ensure the workers continue to have a strong voice in their workplace."

Irish Independent

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