Thursday 18 January 2018

Pension fund 'obliged' to re-open anchor unit in centre

Tim Healy

THE owners of a Co Louth shopping centre claim a pension fund is obliged to re-open its anchor store under a 20-year 'keep open' clause in the lease agreement.

Parol Ltd and Carroll Village (Retail) Management Services Ltd, who own the Carroll Village shopping centre in Dundalk, claim their rental income has been decimated by the closure for the second time of its anchor store, a Superquinn supermarket.

They are suing Friends First Managed Pension Funds Ltd, which they say took over the anchor lease in May 2007, claiming it is in breach of the 'keep open' obligation entered into in 1999.

They also say it is in breach of a previous court order under which Superquinn was forced to re-open the store following the first closure in February 2009.

Superquinn subsequently went into examinership before it was bought by the Musgrave chain. The Dundalk store closed again as it was not included in the Musgrave buyout. Friends First say they have made extensive efforts to find a new anchor but without success so far.

They say that as a pension fund, they are not involved in the management of supermarkets and can only try to persuade a new anchor to take over the premises.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Peter Kelly granted an application from Michael Howard, for Parol and Caroll Village, to have the case transferred into the Commercial Court list.

He rejected arguments from Gareth Compton, for Friends First, that the case was about actual loss of rent from the premises which would amount to no more than €300,000 by the time the matter was heard and therefore it did not meet the €1m threshold for cases to be admitted to the Commercial Court.

He made directions for exchange of documents between the parties and put the matter back to November to fix a date for hearing of the action.

Ronan O'Neill, solicitor with Eugene F Collins, representing Parol and Carroll Village, said in an affidavit that the effect of the closure in 2009 and in August of 2011 was to "decimate" his clients' rent roll.

They are seeking an order from the court that Friends First re-open the anchor unit and/or an order for damages for the loss caused by the cessation of trade.

Irish Independent

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