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Management rejig on cards at Arnotts

A change of management could be in the pipeline at iconic Irish department store Arnotts, after the state-owned Anglo Irish Bank said it would take over the business.

Arnotts, which owes about E250m (£208m) to Anglo Irish Bank and Ulster Bank, is set to come under the bank’s control after Anglo Irish sought permission from the European Union to take action.

A debt repackaging was com­pleted in January and in March the banks drafted in a team including former Brown Thomas chief executive Nigel Blow to formulate a strategy for the troubled store. The team has been working with Arnotts chief executive David Riddiford to identify growth opportunities.

This week a spokeswoman for Arnotts said that there had been no changes to the management team and that trading continued as normal.

She added that Arnotts had performed “very strongly” during the first half and confirmed that the 950 jobs at the retailer were secure.

However, it was reported in the Irish press today that barrister Richard Nesbitt would be retained as chairman if the European Commission rules that the Anglo Irish Bank and Ulster Bank can take control of the business..

The Nesbitt family founded Arnotts in 1843 and the banks are understood to be keen to maintain the connection if the new controlling structure is approved, the Irish Times reported.

The family currently owns a 55% stake in the business.

However, all existing shareholders will lose their equity if the banks take control as expected, meaning Nesbitt would stay on as a figurehead only for the iconic department store.

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