Debenhams staff worried as company's beleaguered Irish arm goes into examinership

Over 1,400 jobs could be at risk...

The High Court has appointed an interim examiner to Debenhams Retail (Ireland), as the UK department store chain attempts to restructure in an effort to save its Irish business.

Some 1,415 people currently work across the 11 store locations operating in the Republic, in Mahon Point (Cork), Patrick Street (Cork), Newbridge (Kildare), Henry Street (Dublin), Blackrock (Dublin), Tallaght (Dublin), Blanchardstown (Dublin), Limerick, Waterford, Galway and Tralee.

The outlets will remain open and continue trading while the business is in examinership.

Trade union SIPTU, which represents around 40 Debenhams staff, is now seeking an urgent meeting with management to discuss their members' concerns.

Organiser Robert Purfield said: "The announcement today that the company has applied to go into examinership has shocked staff and deeply concerns them.

"SIPTU has written to the company seeking an urgent meeting to discuss the situation and will seek to work with management to ensure the examinership process results in as positive an outcome as possible.

“Our members welcome the company’s commitment to maintain business as usual at its 11 stores in the Republic of Ireland during the examinership process.”

In a statement earlier to the stock exchange, Debenhams said its Irish units had been running at a loss, in part due to high overheads such as rental costs. The recession also hit the retailer hard.

The company said: "The decision to seek examinership follows several years of losses at Debenhams Retail (Ireland) Ltd culminating in a financial loss of €6.7m in the last financial year ended 29 August, 2015.

"This reflects disproportionately high operating costs, such as above-market rents and other overheads."

The Irish arm actually improved its turnover from €163.5m to €166.5m for the 12 months to the end of August 2015. Pre-tax losses were also down.