Sunday 25 February 2018

Inside the Kilkenny Group: how a family succession plan fell apart

Exclusive: Legal documents reveal son may push for group's wind up; Family constitution included dress code and rules governing behaviour

Melissa, Greg and Marian O’Gorman in 2014 at the Kilkenny shop on Nassau Street Picture: Kieran Harnett
Melissa, Greg and Marian O’Gorman in 2014 at the Kilkenny shop on Nassau Street Picture: Kieran Harnett
Dearbhail McDonald

Dearbhail McDonald

Greg O'Gorman, the former marketing director of the Kilkenny Group who is at the centre of a bitter family row over the business, has requested that "if necessary" a receiver be appointed to the well-known retail chain in order to realise and distribute the assets of one of Ireland's best know retail chains.

It has also emerged in court filings that a family partnership - comprised of Greg O'Gorman and his siblings Michelle, Melissa and Christopher, with their mother Marian O'Gorman as a managing parter - agreed in 2015 to prime the Kilkenny Group for sale within the next five to 10 years if it doubled its profits within that time-frame.

The row came before the courts last week and is tearing apart one of Ireland's leading retail dynasties, a company which employs 300 people across 15 stores. The row centres on a 2010 agreement governing the future ownership and management of the group, known as the Family Business Constitution.

If the court finds that the constitution does not lack any "necessary formality" to render it ordinarily binding, O'Gorman is seeking a declaration that it has been part performed. If necessary, O'Gorman is seeking an order directing the winding up and sale of all partnership assets and/or an order for specific performance of the 2010 agreement.

He has requested, if deemed necessary, an order for the appointment of a receiver over all partnership assets for the purpose of realising and distributing partnership assets to the partners or for the partnership to be dissolved.

Greg O'Gorman alleges that he, his wife and three children have been left "financially destitute" after his mother reneged on the 2010 agreement that she would hold the shares in the company in trust for her adult children. Last week, a High Court judge pleaded for Marian O'Gorman and her son to consider mediation to avoid a public exploration of the family dispute.

Marian O'Gorman is the named shareholder of Clydaville Investments Limited, which trades as the Kilkenny Group. Greg O'Gorman says she holds the company on trust for the O'Gorman Family Partnership, comprising him and his three siblings in equal shares as general-equity partners, with their mother as a non-equity managing partner.

Read More: Family at war as 'destitute' son sues 'domineering' matriarch

There is no suggestion of misconduct or non performance on the part of Greg O'Gorman, whose employment was terminated last July. He says there are "critically-important decisions" to be taken concerning the future strategic direction of the company of "a commercially sensitive nature".

A representative for Marian O'Gorman had no comment. Greg O'Gorman's siblings Christopher, Melissa and Michelle have all been joined as notice parties.

However, Greg O'Gorman said he makes no criticism, express or implied, against any of them and shall not advance any legal case against them in the action, which comes back before the High Court in June.

Sunday Indo Business

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