| 9.5°C Dublin

Clerys closure 'cash battle' to go to courts

Dublin Councillors have voted to block the new owners of Clerys from changing it into a hotel or offices.

New owners Natrium Ltd had indicated a 'mixed use' future for the department store when it bought it - leading to more than 400 people being made redundant.

But at a meeting last night Dublin city councillors branded Natrium as "vulture capitalists" and backed a Labour motion to retain the building as a retail premises.

Labour councillor Mary Freehill said the motion was a signal to any organisation that wants to "asset strip at the expense of workers" that their actions will be resisted.

Meanwhile, concession holders at the former department store vowed yesterday to do their "damndest" to get more than €2m owed to them.

A group of the concession holders met with lawyers yesterday and committed money to a legal fighting fund.


More than 40 concession holders declared they are owed a total of €2m to €2.5m in turnover money which was being held in trust for them by the Clerys operating company.

Fifteen of the biggest concession holders have met with solicitor Michael Lavelle and pledged money to fight a legal battle.

"We are certainly going to do our damndest to get our money back," said Keith Rogers, whose Ecco Shoes concession in Clerys employed 11 staff.

He was glad that his company was able to absorb the 11 staff into its other shoe sales outlets in Ireland.

The concession holders got their stock out of Clerys after the iconic Dublin store was abruptly closed down after its owners, Gordon Brothers, sold it to Irish-led consortium Natrium Ltd.

The store's operating company, OCS Operations Ltd, was put into liquidation.

Mr Rogers said that the concession holders rejected indications from the liquidator that there is insufficient money to reimburse them.

The turnover money was being held in trust for the concession holders and belongs to them, he said.

"The bills are mounting up. We want our money back and we're going to fight for it.

"There was a gung-ho feeling at the meeting," said Louise Hogan, owner of the Nail Zone concession.


Dublin City councillors voted yesterday to extend planning controls in O'Connell Street that would preserve the use of Clerys as a department store.

A special meeting of councillors also passed motions requesting the new owners, Natrium, to meet staff and to guarantee them employment at the site when it is developed and opened again.