Monday 20 November 2017

Grainne Seoige folds her TV firm after racking up 'dramatic' losses

The golden girl of RTE saw her production company's workload greatly reduced

Television personality: Grainne Seoige and her partner Leon Jordaan Photo: Gerry Mooney
Television personality: Grainne Seoige and her partner Leon Jordaan Photo: Gerry Mooney
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

With her ice-cool beauty, Grainne Seoige was one of RTE's hottest stars. But new records reveal how the Galway television presenter faced plunging revenues at her production company as RTE reduced her workload. Seoige's company, Grace Productions, suffered a "dramatic fall in revenues" since 2011 because of a "significantly reduced" contract with the station. As the TV presenter now focuses on the bespoke diamond business which she founded with her South African fiance, Leon Jordaan, it has emerged that her media production company was wound up last month with €364 to its name. 

Seoige placed the company into voluntary liquidation last year when it could no longer meet its liabilities. Her company's last filed accounts in 2013 recorded a deficit of €14,228.

Grainne Seoige was once a ubiquitous presence on the airwaves, both here and in the UK. She set up Grace Productions to handle her media business at the height of her popularity in 2006. She began her broadcasting career as news anchor at TG4 in 1996, moving onto TV3 and Sky News Ireland before joining RTE in 2006.

She was the broadcaster's star presenter at that time, fronting her own daytime chat show, Seoige, and went on to host The All Ireland Talent Show and the sports quiz, Put 'Em Under Pressure. She presented the annual People of the Year Awards, and Up for the Match, a one-off annual show on the All Ireland finals, and also fronted morning and daytime shows on ITV.

In recent years, her television work was limited to the once-yearly shows, People of the Year and Up for the Match, and the monthly series, Crimecall. She was replaced as presenter of Crimecall last year by Keelin Shanley.

Now a liquidator's report on Seoige's business, filed at the Companies Office on July, 7, suggests that Grace Productions' difficulties started in 2011, when RTE imposed swinging pay cuts across the board to reduce its costs.

According to the report, Grace Productions' "primary source of revenue came with contract work with RTE and to a lesser extent, other media engagements with private contractors".

"From 2011 onwards, the contract terms with RTE were significantly reduced in terms of workload and payment. This caused a dramatic fall-off in revenues and although the director made efforts to reduce spending in line with this fall, she was not able to reduce sufficient costs to match the reduction," it said.

The report continued that, "as a result of limited market opportunities that were afforded in Ireland", Seoige began to seek work abroad.  It said an opportunity arose in South Africa in 2013, and Seoige began to develop a business there.

"Although still tied to contractual work at home, the director began to spend more and more time abroad, setting up her new business," the report said. She left the day-to- day financial management of Grace Productions to her business partner and accountant, and trading was "minimal".

As her contractual obligations with RTE came to an end in 2016, she sought advice on winding up the business, the report said. Based on its "small level of liabilities", she was advised to refinance or liquidate the company. As she was "not in a position to refinance the company from her personal resources", she placed it into voluntary liquidation.

The company was wound up with around €15,267.52 cash in hand. Grainne Seoige received a €5,000 refund from the company, which paid more than €7,500 in fees and €2,200 in expenses to the liquidator, Declan Clancy.

The company was left with a balance of €364.44 as of June, once all expenses were paid.

Grainne Seoige's contract with RTE ended earlier this year, but she has not cut her ties with television. She appeared on TV3's The Restaurant in March and has said she expects to be doing more TV work in South Africa.

"I think I will be doing more TV work. I'm in talks with a few people on projects," she has said.

"There's no point talking about things until they're actually happening and, as I say, until I have the biro in my hand. But I will be doing more stuff."

Grainne Seoige launched her new venture, Grace Diamonds, at New York Bridal Fashion Week last year as a high-end, bespoke jewellery business, making custom pieces for clients. The diamonds are sourced in Pretoria.

She and Leon Jordaan founded the business "after their own magical journey of designing and manufacturing her engagement ring".

She told a magazine earlier this year: "He proposed with a loose diamond, which is traditional there, but unusual here. We designed the ring around it and it was such a wonderful, romantic experience that we started talking about it afterwards as maybe a business idea."

Grainne Seoige, who now lives between Ireland and South Africa, re-trained in gemology. She parted ways with her husband and former TV3 colleague, Stephen Cullinane, in 2010.

She became engaged to Leon Jordaan, a rugby coach, in November 2013.

Sunday Independent

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