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Fears for 690 jobs at B and Q Ireland

Thursday, January 31 15:11:32

B and Q Ireland, part of UK-based Kingfisher plc, today said it will close its stores in Athlone and Waterford after it today successfully filed a petition with the High Court in Dublin seeking an Examiner, sparking fears the entire business will close with 690 jobs lost.

The court has granted protection for the company and has appointed Declan McDonald of PWC as interim examiner.

During the examinership process, it is anticipated that B and Q Ireland Ltd will continue to trade at all nine stores; all employees will be paid, and all pre-paid goods and services, including kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms and their installation, together with Gift Vouchers and Credit Notes will be honoured. Suppliers will be paid for goods and services supplied during the process, a statement from the Examiner said.

The examinership process is designed to facilitate the survival of the company which has been impacted by the recession and in particular by the decline in consumer spending in the housing sector., it said.

The home improvement and garden centre retailer has nine large outlets in the Republic of Ireland, employing some 690 people. The company has operated here since 2002.

"Despite remedial efforts by management, losses in the Irish market can no longer be sustained by the company, and it is hoped that a restructuring via examinership will provide for the potential for survival of some part of the business," the statement said.

"The Company believes that in order to have a reasonable prospect of survival, consideration will need to be given to exiting property leases and closing uneconomic stores. Based on Management's forecasts and the Company's current trading performance, it is proposed that at least two stores, Athlone and Waterford, will be closed. In addition, most of the other stores will require the agreement, by individual landlords, of substantially improved terms. In light of the required change to terms, management consider it likely that a further two stores will be closed."

These proposals are subject to the views of the Examiner.

Brian Mooney, Chairman of B and Q Ireland Ltd said: "The management team is hopeful that a sustainable business can emerge from the examinership process, based on a restructuring of the company. Our priority remains our employees and our customers. Our colleagues have been briefed on today's development, and understand that the company's objective in seeking the appointment of an Examiner is to try to protect jobs and retain competition and consumer choice in the market. However, we cannot anticipate the outcome of this process which is subject to the Examiner's recommendations."