Selfridges bids for Dublin department store Arnotts
Retail experts have celebrated the news that London retail chain Selfridges is bidding to take over Dublin department store Arnotts.
It emerged over the weekend that the London retail giant, controlled by billionaire Canadian Galen Weston, is vying for a stake in Ireland's largest department store. Mr Weston also owns Brown Thomas – meaning the two most famous department stores in Ireland could join forces.
"It will be fantastic if they succeed," said retail consultant Eddie Shanahan, a former head of merchandising at Arnotts. "It would mean one of the most professional retail management teams in Europe, if not the world, will come to the rescue of a company that's been struggling."
Selfridges is bidding for a stake in Arnotts that was put up for sale by bad bank IBRC and Ulster Bank, who took control of the company in 2010. The banks control about €315m (£266.5m) worth of loans attached to Arnotts. Many of these were accumulated by the store's troubled purchase of properties.
Private equity firm Palladin Capital is also rumoured to be bidding for the Arnotts loans.
"If Selfridges take control, they will not try to compete with themselves," said Mr Shanahan. "We will see Arnotts become less like Brown Thomas, not more.
"Selfridges have a very experienced, global team who understand that the iconic Arnotts brand has a place in the market – mid-range is important, and it's coming back."
Arnotts lost its way, he said, by losing focus on its customers and trying to remodel itself on its high-end rival.