Belfast Telegraph

Anglo Irish Bank to take over store

Fears have been raised over the future of almost 1,000 jobs after it emerged state-owned Anglo Irish Bank is to take control of Dublin department store Arnotts.

The nationalised bank and fellow lender Ulster Bank are set to have joint control of the well-known retailer as it struggles with debts thought to be more than 250 million euro.

None of the store's 950 jobs are thought to be under immediate threat but union bosses have called for an urgent meeting with bosses at both banks.

John Douglas, general secretary of Mandate - which represents more that 900 Arnotts staff - said workers were extremely worried.

He added: "The majority of our staff have more than 20 years of service. These banks need to engage with retail directors within Arnotts and until they can give us sight of, and investment in, a plan for the future, I trust no-one on behalf of the staff."

Anglo is now awaiting formal approval of the move from the EU, with a decision due next month.

The historic store, which first opened its doors in 1843, is understood to be experiencing steady trade. But a proposed 800 million euro redevelopment near the site of the original Henry Street premises left the firm saddled with huge debts. The planned Northern Quarter was set to include a shopping, residential and entertainment district.

Arnotts later said jobs were safe and trading would continue as normal.

"Arnotts Holdings Ltd confirms that it is working with its banks (Anglo Irish Bank and Ulster Bank) as part of the ongoing process agreed last February to restructure the group's financing," a statement read. "Arnotts is performing very strongly with trading for the first half of the year ahead of the Irish retail market.

"Jobs within Arnotts remain secure and Arnotts continues to invest in the future of the store. We would like to reassure our customers that it is business as usual at Arnotts."

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