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High Court hears of hope expressed that jobs in Irish arm of Laura Ashley can be saved

Today, Justice Leonie Reynolds confirmed the appointment of joint liquidators to LauraAshley Ireland Ltd.

Image: Doug Peters/EMPICS Entertainment via PA Images

HOPES HAVE BEEN expressed before the High Court that the jobs of some of those employed with the Irish arm of fashion retailer Laura Ashley can be saved following the acquisition of its UK parent.  

Today, Justice Leonie Reynolds confirmed the appointment of joint liquidators to LauraAshley Ireland Ltd, which formed part of the Laura Ashley group, employed over 70 people in Ireland. 

The liquidators are Ken Tyrell and Declan McDonald of PWC, who last month were appointed to act in a provisional capacity. 

The Irish firm sought the appointment of liquidators arising out of its UK parent’s decision to enter administration, after a the Covid-19 effectively ended a proposed sales process.

As a result, the parent ceased providing the Irish company with any further financial support.

Without that support the Irish company, which had seen a decline in revenue in recent years, could not survive as it has a balance sheet deficit of over €563,000.

When the matter returned before the High Court today Rossa Fanning SC said that while the Irish company was seeking to have the liquidators confirmed there was room for optimism. 

Counsel said that in recent days that the Laura Ashley brand had been bought in administration by the US investment firm Gordon Brothers. 

Counsel said that the Gordon Brothers had engaged in a process of due diligence, with a view to streamlining the business in Ireland and the UK. 

That process may result in some of the Irish stores and some of the jobs being retained, counsel said.

Justice Reynolds, noting the cautious optimism expressed to the court in regards to the hope that jobs in the business could be saved, confirmed the liquidator’s appointment on the basis the company is clearly insolvent. 

There were no objections to the application.

Previously the court heard that in recent years both the UK parent and the Irish firm had also been experiencing financial difficulties. 

The Covid-19 outbreak has had a catastrophic impact on the entire group’s financial position. In line with all other retailers, the five Irish stores closed in late March.

The Irish company has liabilities of €3.3 million, 80% of which was owed to other companies within the group. 

Other creditors of the Irish company include Revenue, trade creditors and landlords.

Comments are closed as legal proceedings are ongoing.

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Aodhan O Faolain

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