Yes, we have had approaches, admits Arnotts' boss -- but we're not selling
ARNOTTS' boss has admitted the firm has had approaches to sell but "not any credible ones", dismissing any suggestion that its creditor banks would sell it off any time in the near future.
The Flacks Group and others have been sniffing around, but Arnotts CEO Nigel Blow is having none of it, he told the Sunday Independent.
"There is no question of us being for sale, business is strong enough for us to stand on our own two feet. We are generating cash." Outside of its €300m property debt albatross, Arnotts' core retail business is "profitable and self-sufficient," he said.
"It's not sensible to look at new ownership right now if you do the maths," he argues, adding that the plan to continue to beef up the retail proposition is the way forward. "Our mission is to continue to establish the business as a going concern." Any sale would be "three to five years down the line -- that is what has been discussed with the banks and they are supportive of that".
Sales in the first quarter of 2012 were "OK, really," says Blow. "No one in this market is saying sales are brilliant, but they are better than our peer group, Debenhams, BTs and Clerys."
Fashion and beauty are performing well, with cosmetics a bit of a recession-buster, but homewares, less so. "We are cautiously optimistic for the next few years."
Over half of the current €6m store revamp has been funded by suppliers that have concessions there, which Blow says is a show of confidence in Arnotts' prospects.
The store fell into the hands of its creditor banks IBRC and Ulster in 2010.
Sunday Indo Business