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B&Q Ireland’s Athlone branch to remain open following rent negotiation

An update concerning the home improvement/ DIY retailer — whose Irish operations went into examinership at the end of January — said yesterday that the Waterford branch is now scheduled to close on May 4.

In the aftermath of the appointment of Declan McDonald of PricewaterhouseCoopers as examiner by the High Court, it was announced that at least two of B&Q Ireland’s stores — Waterford and Athlone — would likely close.

However, it has now transpired that the Athlone outlet — which employs 45 people — will remain open and continue normal trading, after improved lease terms were secured.

While Athlone and Waterford were deemed to be the stores at most risk, it had been noted most of the other B&Q stores in the Republic would also require the agreement of “substantially improved terms” with landlords in order to remain trading.

January’s statement had claimed two other stores would likely close by the end of the examinership process, which is due to run its course next month.

Including Waterford, B&Q has nine outlets in the Republic, employing in the region of 700 people between them.

Management has said it is hopeful of a sustainable business emerging and yesterday’s statement claimed that negotiations on the leases for the other seven stores are ongoing.

B&Q’s parent company, Kingfisher, issued a weak set of annual financial results last week, with group profits and revenues dragged down by poor weather conditions and weak consumer sentiment across its core western European markets.

A breakdown of those results showed that B&Q Ireland incurred losses of £7m (€8.25m) in 2012.

According to the group, a 3.6% fall in sales in Kingfisher’s combined UK and& Ireland division, which also includes the Screwfix builders merchants business in Britain, reflected a “difficult UK backdrop” and “a particularly challenging environment in Ireland”.

Source : Geoff Percival – Irish Examiner

03 April 2013
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