THE planned sale of a €30m stake in the Shaws department store chain has been put on hold after the families behind the business suspended hostilities in a bitter feud that has threatened to see part of the retailer sold to an external buyer.
The Irish Independent understands that octogenarian Sheila Shaw has suspended the sale process for her 7pc stake in the chain, as have her two sons who own about another 23pc of the retailer, pending the outcome of fresh negotiations with the company regarding their holdings.
The retailer, with its 'Almost Nationwide' slogan and 15 outlets that employ about 1,000 people, is headed by Ms Shaw's nephew, Jonathan Shaw. It's thought to be worth close to €100m. Ms Shaw was incensed last year when her son Clive, who had been running the Carlow branch of the chain, was moved to Athy under a management shake-up.
Her husband, one of the three brothers who controlled the business for half a century, had run the Carlow outlet for years and Clive Shaw was perceived by Ms Shaw to be the natural successor to that branch.
When Ms Shaw's husband Billy died, he had stipulated in his will that the 7pc stake he transferred to his wife upon his death should be sold and the proceeds distributed to her and three of their children not involved in the business.
The remainder of Mr Shaw's stake had already been divided between his sons involved in the retailer -- Clive and Norman. Jonathan Shaw is a son of Billy Shaw's brother, Trevor.
Ms Shaw offered her 7pc stake for sale to the company, which made what she considered to be derisory offer.
The offer was subsequently withdrawn by the company and Ms Shaw's sons, Clive and Norman, also then indicated they intended to sell their combined 23pc stake.
The family hired Mazars as corporate advisers for the sale process and Orpen Franks solicitors to deal with legal issues. John O'Donovan at Orpen Franks declined to comment yesterday.
The company subsequently declined another offer to buy the entire 30pc stake, so a process whereby the holding must be independently valued began whereupon another offer to sell would be made to the company.
If the offer was rejected, the stake could be sold on the open market.
But in recent weeks the warring families have agreed to re-open direct dialogue in order to see if they can reach a mutually agreeable accommodation on the holdings held by Ms Shaw and her sons.
That could involve the company agreeing to acquire the stakes, or even just Ms Shaw's 7pc holding, rather than face the prospect of her family offering it to the highest bidder in an open sale.