Receiver in at Munster chemist chain
A group of 14 pharmacies in Munster are believed to owe Bank of Scotland (Ireland) more than €40m, triggering concerns over 160 jobs at the chain.
A receiver was appointed yesterday to a total of 14 companies within the high-profile IPOS network for pharmacists.
The move has been blamed on difficult trading conditions given Ireland's deep economic recession, substantially reduced margins within the pharmacy sector, and increasingly cut-throat competition.
The major asset of the IPOS companies is a total of 14 pharmacy premises in Munster.
The outlets are located in Cork (11) and Tipperary (3).
Paul McCann of Grant Thornton was yesterday appointed receiver to the 14 firms at the instigation of the Bank of Scotland (Ireland). The receiver confirmed that Grant Thornton will continue operating the various pharmacy businesses as going concerns.
It is hoped that all 14 outlets -- which operate under the Walsh, Friary, Harte and Brosnan banners -- can successfully be sold as going concerns.
One industry official said that the majority of the pharmacies in question would be quite attractive to potential buyers given their prime locations and catchment areas.
Cork TD Ciaran Lynch (Lab) said it was vital that as many jobs as possible were saved -- and he pointed out that the majority of the pharmacy outlets were located in strategic areas.
"It is vital to protect every single job we can in Ireland at the moment given the way the live register figures keep soaring upwards," he said.
"We are now two years into the worst recession in Irish history and we are still waiting for a coherent job protection strategy from the Government.
"Despite the obvious implications for the retail sector, nothing whatsoever has been done about the issue of business rents," he added.
Mr Lynch warned that the Walsh Pharmacy receivership assumes major importance given that many of the premises have strategic locations and offer a vital community service. The IPOS pharmacy outlets are located in Carrigaline, Dillon's Cross, Blarney, Youghal, Midleton (2), Ballincollig, Kinsale, Lough, Macroom and Mallow, all Co Cork; as well as Cashel and Thurles (2) in Co Tipperary.
Only one of the outlets -- Friary Pharmacy SC, Thurles -- is located in a shopping centre.
Talks with potential buyers for the various outlets are expected in the coming weeks.