Tuesday 12 December 2017

New Arnotts chairman to review senior executives

John Mulligan

Arnotts has confirmed US restructuring specialist Mark Schwartz as the retailer's new chairman after Anglo Irish Bank and Ulster Bank formally took control of the 160-year-old business earlier this week following approval from the European Commission.

Former chairman, barrister Richard Nesbitt, who oversaw a period at the department store from 2002 when its debt soared to €300m as he pursued a plan to create a €750m shopping quarter in the capital, has been relegated to a non-executive role at the firm.

The Nesbitt family owned 55pc of the company behind Arnotts, while investment firm Boundary Capital, headed by financier Niall McFadden, owned 28pc.

Anglo Irish Bank also held an equity stake since 2007. Anglo and Ulster Bank, owned by Royal Bank of Scotland, had bankrolled Mr Nesbitt's ambitious development plans for Arnotts and the surrounding area.

Mr Schwartz, who is the chief executive of the Boston-based Palladin Capital Group, also said yesterday that he intends to engage in a "full review" of senior executive management at Arnotts and that changes are being considered that would "reflect the renewed focus on Arnotts' trading operations".


It's likely the first executive roles to come under the spotlight will be those of group chief executive Brian Kearney and chief financial officer Declan Delanty, who were significantly involved in plans for the €750m Northern Quarter.

Mr Schwartz also said that there was "no need" for concern about Arnotts' future. "I and my colleagues are here to grow this business, not shrink it," he added.

Mr Schwartz said that he has been struck by the strength of the Arnotts brand and its potential for future growth. However, while it's believed the Boyers outlet on Dublin's North Earl Street will continue to trade, the future of the Arnotts outlet in Stillorgan is less certain.

Mr Schwartz, a former banker at Merrill Lynch, remained upbeat yesterday. "Having the banks and the shareholders all finally rolled into one is a tremendous advantage," he said. "There are no longer alternate agendas or objectives."

He warned, however, that changes will be made in coming months at the retailer.

"Most of what is needed is already here and just needs focused support and attention. We have a strong team and financial support."

Michael Nesbitt, Richard's brother, who was once managing director of the retailer, has resigned from the Arnotts board, as has Keith Edelman, a former managing director of Arsenal Football Club.

Stephen Haughey, a former chairman of law firm A&L Goodbody, has also been appointed a non-executive director, as has Palladin's Tobias Nanda.

Irish Independent

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