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Store giants fight back with 750 jobs saved as sky-high rents tumble

MORE than 750 retailing jobs have been brought back from the brink after two store giants exited examinership.

Representative groups said it was a good day for retailers as DIY group B&Q Ireland and fashion chain Pamela Scott revealed the jobs had been saved.

But they said it didn't change the difficult landscape of squeezed consumer spending and changing shopping habits.

The news comes after a Herald investigation into the renewal of Dublin's city centre main streets, where it was found that shops are slowly starting to emerge from recession.

However, Retail Excellence Ireland CEO David Fitzsimons said there needs to be a new approach to the examinership process for those who can't afford the expensive legal route.

"It is good news for larger retailers – but it doesn't change things for the small shops on the high street," he said.

"It is tough with the arrival of the property tax, the hit to discretionary spend and consumer sentiment generally. A lot of our members are concerned about mid-market ladies fashion in particular where a lot of consumers have migrated online."

Hardware store B&Q Ireland said that 640 jobs have been saved as the company exited examinership. It initially sought the appointment of an examiner on January 31 in a bid to rescue the business.

The cost of rents was a significant factor and two stores, Athlone and Waterford, had been identified as uneconomical. The company closed its Waterford store last month with 47 jobs lost.

The parent company of B&Q Kingfisher plc now plans to invest more than €2.4m in the group here at eight stores countrywide.

Brian Mooney, chairman of B&Q Ireland, said: "There is huge regret that the Waterford store was not viable, but, for the rest of the business, we look confidently forward to a sustainable future."



And fashion chain Pamela Scott also announced that half of its stores successfully exited the examinership process.

The group Flairline Fashion said that the shops will remain open and all 137 jobs at the stores have been secured.

The company's parent Flairline Fashion also plans to open a new Pamela Scott shop in Athlone this month, with another four to six new shops planned for later this year.

Director of the group Scott Barron said the renegotiation of leases was crucial to the restructuring process.

There was some bad news yesterday though, with reports that Xtra-vision is to close nine stores here 60 jobs losses.