independent

Monday 22 April 2019

Riverstown woman behind Clery's deal

Deirdre Foley, owner and CEO, D2 Private.
Deirdre Foley, owner and CEO, D2 Private.

Paul Deering

The Sligo woman behind the controversial deal that led to the closure of the iconic Dublin department store, Clery's comes from a farming background in Riverstown.

Now Dublin based, Deirdre Foley (43) owns 20% of Natrium Ltd, a joint venture which acquired the Clery's building last week. Ms Foley, who is single, grew up in Riverstown and went to school in Ballymote before studying at NUI Galway where she graduated with a B. Comm degree. It's rare for her to visit to Sligo. Her mother, Christina died some 14 years ago while her father, Batty Foley, in his 80s, still lives in the Riverstown area.

Ms Foley, who has two brothers and one sister who are also living away from Sligo, trained as an accountant, beginning her career with KPMG in 1992. After KPMG, she spent a year with GE Capital before joining Quinlan Private, the investment vehicle of financier Derek Quinlan. After six years, she left in 2005 to set up D2 Private with property developer David Arnold, who was behind developments such as Central Park in Leopardstown, south Dublin. The pair quickly set about building up a portfolio of property, mainly in London, including high-profile properties such as an M&S building in Paddington called Waterside House and the £325 million Woolgate Exchange, occupied by West LB.

By 2008, D2 Private had a portfolio of €1.8 billion, and was said to have achieved the highest global rent when it rented a property at St James's Square for £140 per square foot.

However, the crash hit the business, and D2 Private began selling off many of its properties, some in partnership with Nama. Ms Foley's partnership with Mr Arnold dissolved around 2013 and she now owns 100 per cent of D2 Private.

Clery's was sold by Boston-based Gordan Brothers to Natrium, which comprises D2 Private and Cheyne Capital Management in the UK. OCS Operations Ltd, which ran the store, was placed in liquidation in dramatic fashion resulting in the shock closure of the store. Natrium was incorporated on May 27th last. In its first public comment on the sale, the company said it intended to redevelop the property. It said it can be "transformed to create a major new mixed-use destination in Dublin City Centre and to create large numbers of sustainable jobs." Minister of State for Business and Employment Ged Nash is to meet the new owners of Clery's.

In a letter to Deirdre Foley and John Skelly of Natrium Ltd, he said the Government was deeply concerned about how the workers and concession owners have been treated since the shop's operating company was put into liquidation.

Mr Nash asked for the meeting to discuss the unexpected liquidation of the operating company OCS Operations and to discuss the subsequent redundancy of Clery's workers, and he wanted to know Natrium's plans for the Clery's site.

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