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The Argos store in the Ilac Shopping Centre in Dublin city (file photo) Sam Boal/
Job Losses

Argos set to close all Irish outlets by June

The company employs around 580 people across 34 stores in Ireland.

ARGOS HAS ANNOUNCED the closure of all its outlets in Ireland.

Staff members were told this morning that the company is closing all stores and online activities in Ireland by 24 June.

It is understood that some stores will close sooner, if their leases expire prior to that date.

The company said it employs 580 people in 34 outlets across Ireland.

Employees have been informed they will receive four weeks redundancy pay along with the normal statutory two weeks, The Journal understands.

The Mandate Trade Union has expressed its disappointment at the company’s decision to pull out of the Irish market and said the union “will engage intensively with the company to get the best possible deal for the workers who are being made redundant”.

A spokesperson for Argos said the company is “committed to doing everything it can to support its people and is talking to 580 colleagues across 34 stores in the Republic of Ireland about their options”.

They added that, as part of the consultation process with employees and Mandate, Argos “will propose an enhanced redundancy package that goes well beyond its statutory obligations”.

“The small number of colleagues not eligible for redundancy under Irish Law are expected to receive a one-off goodwill payment. To further support colleagues, Argos has also committed to a programme of wider support over the coming months,” a statement noted.

Andy McClelland, Argos Ireland Operations Manager, added: “We understand this is difficult news for our customers and colleagues. As with any major change to our business, we have not made this decision lightly and we are doing everything we can to support those impacted.

“On behalf of everyone at Argos I would like to thank our colleagues, customers, suppliers and partners for their support to our business.”

The UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s owns Argos. There will be no change to Argos’s operations in Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales.

Redundancy packages

Mandate official Michael Meegan said today is “a difficult one for Argos’s staff here in Ireland as they get the news that the company will be closing down here”.

Because Argos is shutting down its complete operation in Ireland this amounts to a collective redundancy which requires a 30-day consultation period and we know the company intends to honour that obligation to engage.

“We will be using this period to negotiate the best possible terms for those who are losing their jobs and we are expecting a constructive response from the company,” Meegan stated.

Argos opened its first outlets in the Republic of Ireland – in Dublin and Limerick – in January 1996.

In October, Sainsbury’s confirmed that it would close the Argos store in Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre in Dublin city and another outlet in Kilkenny next summer after struggling to regain sales after the Covid-19 pandemic.

A spokesperson for Retail Excellence Ireland said the closure of the chain emphasises “the fragility and the rapidly changing nature of the retail industry at present”.

“Retailers are experiencing their toughest time of year now and many are struggling to keep afloat. We note that vacant units around the country are not being filled quickly enough which is a significant concern.

“It is critically important that the Government continue to monitor developments and step in with supports if needed in the lean months ahead,” a statement noted.

‘Huge blow’

Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on enterprise, trade, employment and workers’ rights, Louise O’Reilly, said the news is a “huge blow for the workers”.

“As it is the company’s intention to shut down its complete operations this amounts to a collective redundancy which requires a 30-day consultation period.

“It is essential that the company engage quickly and in good faith with the workers trade union, Mandate, during this period,” O’Reilly said.

Labour’s employment spokesperson Marie Sherlock also expressed solidarity with Argos workers.

“The announcement by Argos this morning will be deeply disappointing for its many loyal workers throughout the country and our thoughts are with them and their families. It is a hammer blow to the retail sector and a very sad loss of good unionised jobs.

“Labour supports Mandate’s call to ensure that these workers are properly protected, receive full redundancy and all other associated entitlements,” Sherlock stated.

People Before Profit spokesperson on workers’ rights Paul Murphy said the closures are a “cruel blow to the 580 workers affected”.

“It underlines how vulnerable retail workers are in the current environment. We will redouble our efforts to get the Debenhams Bill passed into law to protect other retail workers in situations where a company declares bankruptcy,” Murphy said.

“Argos is owned by Sainsbury’s which remains a profitable company. Why should workers lose their jobs just to increase profits that already run into the hundreds of millions of euros?

“People Before Profit will be talking with Argos workers in the coming days and will support workers fighting to retain the jobs or for improved redundancy.”

Speaking to reporters after the news broke today, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said that his government colleague Simon Coveney, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, and his department will “do what we always do where we’ve lost a company with a large number of jobs”.

Ryan said Coveney’s department will work with trade unions and the company to make sure that employees “are helped in making a transition to an alternative job, an alternative career”.

Pre-tax losses

Costs associated with the closure of three Argos outlets contributed to pre-tax losses increasing four fold at the Irish arm of the retailer to €13.06 million in 2022.

Accounts released late last year showed that Argos Distributors (Ireland) Ltd recorded the 307% increase in pre-tax losses as revenues tumbled by €36 million – or 21.25% – from €169.85 million to €133.76 million in the 12 months to the end of March 2022.

The closure of the three stores over these 12 months reduced the Argus retail estate from 38 to 35 stores and the cost of the store closures was €2.2 million.

The directors stated in November that since the end of March, there has been closure of one additional store “and a further three approved for closure within the next financial year”.

The firm recorded an operating loss of €12.55 million and interest costs of €509,000 resulted in the pre-tax loss of €13 million, accounts show.

The business recorded a post-tax loss of €11.4 million after recording a corporation tax credit of €1.63 million. The loss takes account of non-cash depreciation costs of €4.63 million.

The pre-tax loss of €13.06 million last year followed a pre-tax loss of €3.2 million in the prior year which arose chiefly from a non-cash impairment of assets of €7.97 million.

At the end of March 2022, the firm had shareholder funds of €242.82 million that included accumulated profits of €15.7 million.

The firm’s cash funds reduced sharply from €26.75 million to €3.39 million.

Contains reporting by Gordon Deegan

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