Former employees at defunct Dublin department store Clerys have dismissed promises from its new owner to create 1,700 new jobs as “a kick in the teeth”.
Guernsey real estate company Natrium, a joint venture between Irish property company D2 Private and discretionary funds managed by UK-based Cheyne Capital Management, bought the firm for an undisclosed sum on June 12 and immediately ceased trading, leaving 130 employees and another 330 concession workers unemployed.
Natrium said it would “significantly invest” in the rejuvenation of the Clerys building and adjacent properties, in compliance with Dublin City Council planning policy, and the “predominantly retail-led development” will generate a minimum of 1,700 new sustainable long-term jobs in the city.
However, Michael Meegan, divisional organiser of trade union Mandate, said the plans have not reassured the former employees who Natrium have refused to meet.
“It’s a disgrace. Natrium has refused to talk to us or [trade union] Siptu since the closure and the majority of the staff have worked at Clerys for 40 years. It’s very underhanded; all they want is to be treated with respect and dignity and to get some answers,” he added.
A Natrium spokesman said: “The Clerys building can be transformed to create a major new mixed use destination in Dublin city centre and to create large numbers of sustainable jobs. There is strong demand from international retailers and other commercial users for unique and best-in-class spaces within the city centre that is not currently being met. ”
It added that it recognised the “necessary closure of the department store has had a very serious impact on the former employees”.
Natrium has agreed to meet with the Irish minister for business and employment, Ged Nash, to talk about its future plans. The minister said he was “deeply concerned” at how workers have been treated and has been asked to file a report by the Irish prime minister Enda Kenny on the matter. Nash has urged Natrium to engage with the trade unions.
Kieran Wallace and Eamonn Richardson of KPMG were appointed joint provisional liquidators to OCS Operations, trading as Clerys, on June 12 following the sale. Clerys was previously owned by the US private equity and investment firm Gordon Brothers Group’s European investment arm.