Shock as 130 Clerys staff lose jobs and 330 others are at risk
HUNDREDS of staff at the iconic Clerys Department Store are out of work after the shutters came down following a dramatic final day of trading.
There has been a department store on the site for 160 years, and it has bounced back from war, fire and flood.
The business employed 130 people, while approximately another 330 are employed by 50 'concession holders'.
But it closed its doors following the appointment of liquidators just hours after the historic property on O'Connell Street was sold by US owners Gordon Brothers to Natrium, an Irish-led consortium.
The consortium is led by Deirdre Foley's D2 Private and UK-based Cheyne Capital Management, with backing from US financiers Quadrant Real Estate Advisors.
Its understood the new owners of the property plan to develop a new shopping mall, as well as offices and leisure facilities within the landmark Dublin building.
"Shell-shocked" staff learned that they lost their jobs just hours after the sale announcement had raised hopes the business itself might survive.
The High Court appointed joint provisional liquidators to the company that had operated the store.
Mr Justice Paul Gilligan appointed insolvency practitioners Eamonn Richardson and Kieran Wallace, of KPMG, to the firm OCS Operations Ltd.
The company petitioned the court for liquidation, saying the store must immediately cease trading to prevent any further debts arising.
The court heard the company is unlikely to have sufficient monies to make upcoming payments and is unable to pay its debts.
One employee told the Herald that staff only learned of the sale at lunchtime.
While the process to appoint liquidators was underway, union officials were seeking meetings with the new owners, according to Michael Meegan of the Mandate Trade Union.
"The hope was it (Clerys) would be sold to a retailer, but that is not what has materialised," he said.
After the sale was announced he contacted the new owners seeking an urgent meeting.
By 5.40pm, however, the liquidators had moved to secure the premises, and the process of closing the store was underway.
Workers staged a three-hour sit-in following the appointment of a liquidator. Some 20 staff remained in the building until before 9pm last night.
A number of workers and small-business people leaving the rear entrance to the store expressed anger at the "shoddy manner" in which staff have been treated.
"We're out of business; we're gone. I've just been told that we're at the bottom of a list of unsecured creditors," said Martin O'Sullivan, co-owner of a carpet and rugs concession in the store.
Shop steward Teresa Hannick, SIPTU sector organiser, said workers had been left "shells-hocked".