Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

In profile: the quiet pharmacist who built and lost an empire

Peter Dolan became one of Northern Ireland's richest developers, all from the relatively unremarkable start of pharmacy. He had followed his father into that profession, and from the mid-1990s, property became a way of re-investing the proceeds of the family business.

The company was named Jermon – Mr Dolan had wished to call it Termon after a townland in Dungannon, but that name was already taken.

While the Jermon empire would come to embrace Scotland, Poland and London as well as Belfast, its first visible impact was on the family's home town.

And Jermon's first big success came in 1999 when the company built a 40,000 sq ft Tesco in Dungannon, the chain's first purpose-built store in Northern Ireland.

Jermon also bought and developed the high-end Linen Green shopping area in Moygashel outside Dungannon, and the Tyrone Crystal factory in Coalisland.

The company also snapped up Donegall Arcade in Belfast city centre for £26m.

A former associate said Jermon had gone on a "huge spree" in the 2000s. "Everybody wanted a shopping centre and something on the square [Donegall Square] and Scottish Mutual was Peter Dolan's asset on the square."

While a low-key person, Mr Dolan did acquire some of the trappings of the wealthy property developer, including an Augusta A109A Mk2 helicopter which was repossessed by Bank of Scotland (Ireland).

A few years earlier, a 'P Dolan' had secured planning permission for a hangar and helipad at Kingarve Road in Dungannon, also the setting for a palatial new family home which is still incomplete.

An underground helicopter hangar is thought to be finished but the helipad is not yet built.

Ultimately HMRC brought a personal insolvency petition against Mr Dolan, which resulted in his bankruptcy last February. His wife Jacqueline is understood to be challenging a bankruptcy petition by Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, on the basis of a class action against swaps, the controversial financial product for small firms.

Mr Dolan, who is in his forties, is understood to be travelling to London to work on a consultancy basis.

Associates describe him as an unassuming person who has adjusted to a major change in lifestyle.

"He has come down from a significant height – but he is a risk taker and entrepreneur who will try and find work and get back."

With his 12 months of bankruptcy due to expire later this month, he is expected to be very much back in the saddle in the near future.

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