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Arnotts posts €295m in losses

DUBLIN department store Arnotts has revealed massive losses -- eclipsing previous postings from Irish retailers.

However, the company, which is now partly owned by the State, said more recent trading had helped earnings to recover.

In accounts to be filed shortly with the companies office, Arnotts Holdings Ltd reveals an after-tax loss of €295m, after it took writedowns on the Northern Quarter project.

The operating loss was €15.2m and directors' pay came to €392,000.

Chairman Mark J Schwartz said the results were historical, that they didn't reflect the upturn in the business subsequently and were hugely distorted by the exceptional charge related to the Northern Quarter development.

But he said the Northern Quarter, which consists of 1.4 million sq ft of space, was not a drain on the company and was bringing in rental income.

And they said that "some variation of it [the development] might happen".

The store, led on a day-to-day basis by chief executive Nigel Blow, was trading well and would be cash-flow positive in its next financial year, said Mr Schwartz. There would be some exceptional charges for redundancy costs in the next results, added Mr Blow.

The group, which is owned by Anglo Irish Bank and Ulster Bank, has bank loans of €282m to service.

A fresh €10m of working capital has been extended by both banks, but remains undrawn so far.