herald

Friday 9 December 2016

€100m put into Arnotts since August takeover

Arnotts Store in Henry Street
Arnotts Store in Henry Street

The new owner of Arnotts has pumped more than €100m into the business since competition authorities signed off on a takeover deal in August.

Wittington Properties, controlled by Brown Thomas owners the Weston Family, took control of the Arnotts store in Dublin city centre in August in a deal with developer Noel Smyth.

That agreement divided the former Arnotts Group between the Westons, who keep and continue to trade the landmark department store, and Noel Smyth's Fitzwilliam company which gets control of the group's remaining assets, including the nearby Boyers store and other properties in the area.

Finance

In a sign that the Westons have big plans for Arnotts, documents filed with the Companies Office show their UK-based Selfridges Group invested €103m into Arnotts within days of the deal being approved by the Competition Authority.

Documents filed by new newly formed holding company ARHL Holdings Limited show it was advanced €68m in cash by the parent of UK based Selfridges - Shel Holdings Europe Limited. Shel Holdings Europe Limited also provided a finance facility, a form of loan, to ARHL worth €45m.

The three directors of ARHL are Selfridges managing director Paul Kelly, Brown Thomas head Stephen Sealey and Selfridges general counsel Adam Batty. The moves mean that the Westons have committed at least €103m to Arnotts.

The funds are likely to be used for renovation and a possible expansion of the Henry Street store, which industry sources say is in need of investment. The Weston family, who also have a major stake in Penneys owner ABF, gained control of Arnotts after teaming up with businessman Noel Smyth during the protracted battle for the store.

After buying half of the group's loans from its lenders, Mr Smyth's Fitzwilliam Finance Partners had ended up in control of half of Arnotts, with the other half owned by US private equity firm Apollo Global Management.

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