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Arnotts back in the black as takeover battle continues

Dublin department store Arnotts and its smaller subsidiary store Boyers & Co are back in the black for the first time since the recession hit in 2008.

According to accounts published last weekend, the overall Arnotts business, which is at the centre of a tug of war between its two owners, recorded an operating profit before interest, tax and exceptional items of €2.5m (£1.8m) for the year to January 26, 2014. It made a €2.9m (£2m) loss the previous year.

Sales were up 2.5% to €120m (£86m). Sales at the Arnotts store, which accounts for 90% of the business, were up 2% while Boyers experienced a 3.5% uplift following a refurbishment of its womenswear department.

The accounts show a legacy debt of €383m (£275m), which has been absorbed by the joint owners, US investment firm Apollo and Fitzwilliam Finance Partners, an Irish investment company led by solicitor Noel Smyth and backed by Selfridges and Brown Thomas owner The Weston Group.

Apollo bought a 50% stake in Arnotts from the liquidators of Anglo Irish Bank in December 2013. Fitzwilliam’s offer to buy the remaining half from Ulster Bank was cleared by the Irish Competition Authority in May 2014.

It is understood both sides want to control 100% of the business and talks to resolve this are ongoing.

In April it emerged that BlueGem, the private equity owner of London department store Liberty, had teamed up with Apollo in an attempt to secure full control of Arnotts. However, Drapers understands BlueGem has since pulled out of the talks.

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