Business Irish

Thursday 22 February 2018

Union to consider blocking the appointment of Clerys liquidators

Concession holders remove some of their stock from Clerys department store yesterday. Photo: Damien Eagers
Concession holders remove some of their stock from Clerys department store yesterday. Photo: Damien Eagers
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The union representing workers at Clerys is considering opposing the appointment of provisional liquidators Kieran Wallace and Eamonn Richardson of KPMG.

The move is being actively considered by SIPTU as the fallout from the sudden closure of the iconic department store continues.

Sources said an alternative liquidator had already been "sounded out" by the union.

SIPTU will be able to oppose the appointment of Mr Wallace and Mr Richardson next month when that appointment must be formally ratified.

The move would have the support of some concession holders in the store, who are deeply unhappy with the flow of information about the liquidation.

SIPTU organiser Robert Purfield confirmed the move was under consideration.

"We are in the process of exploring all avenues," he said.

SIPTU has collected over 5,000 signatures for a petition urging the new owners of the department store, Natrium, to meet with the workers.

Natrium has declined to make any comment since the closure of the store.

Although some of the 50 concession holders in the department store were allowed to begin retrieving their stock yesterday, they remain hugely concerned about €2m in cash from in-store sales which is owed to them.

The concession holders say the money, equivalent to six weeks' takings, had been held in trust by Clerys. It had been due to be paid to them on Monday.

However, the money was never handed over following the liquidation of OCS Operations Ltd, the company which ran Clerys, last Friday.

Sources said Mr Wallace and Mr Richardson did not find sufficient cash in the company accounts to cover the sums owed to the concession holders.

One informed source said the liquidators had sought legal advice to determine if mechanisms were available to return cash to concession holders.

One of the concession holders, Keith Rogers of Ecco Shoes, said they would not rest until the matter had been fully investigated.

"We are simply trying to get to the bottom of where this money is, money that should have been kept in trust. We want to know where is it and why it hasn't been paid. We are simply not getting answers to these questions," he said.

"It is very clear in all of the concession agreements that the money should not be taken out of the trust."

Michael Lavelle, a solicitor representing some of the concession holders, said: "If the money is not there, then we will have to look at alternatives for recovering it."

Irish Independent

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