Forty-five Athlone jobs under threat as B&Q enters examinership

Forty-five jobs are under threat at the Athlone branch of B&Q, after the home improvement store announced it has gone into examinership. The Athlone store has been singled out as one of the company’s “uneconomic stores” which are likely to be closed.

In a statement released yesterday [Thursday] evening, B&Q said: “Based on management’s forecasts and the company’s current trading performance, it is proposed that at least two stores, Athlone and Waterford, will be closed”. The company, which employs 690 people nationwide, added that a further two stores are also likely to be closed.

Declan McDonald of PWC has been appointed as interim examiner. B&Q will continue to trade at its nine outlets in Athlone, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Naas, Waterford, Liffey Valley, Swords, and Tallaght. All employees will continue to be paid, and all pre-paid goods and services, as well as gift vouchers and credit notes, will be honoured. Suppliers will also be paid during the process.

The company, which is a subsidiary of Kingfisher plc and has operated in Ireland since 2002, said that losses in the Irish market can no longer be sustained.

“The examinership process is designed to facilitate the survival of the company which has been impacted by the recession and in particular by the decline in consumer spending in the housing sector,” according to the statement from the B&Q management team.

“Despite remedial efforts by management, losses in the Irish market can no longer be sustained by the company, and it is hoped that a restructuring via examinership will provide for the potential for survival of some part of the business.”

Deputy Nicky McFadden expressed her disappointment at the news.

“I was very disappointed to hear that B&Q has entered examinership and that the company is proposing to close its store in Athlone. B&Q employs people from across Westmeath in its Athlone store. I hope that management and the examiner appointed by the High Court can come to a resolution which will save the jobs of those employed by the hardware company.

“My thoughts are with all of the workers who are undoubtedly under an incredible amount of pressure at this uncertain time.”

Mayor of Athlone Cllr Jim Henson said the closure would be a “body blow” to the town.

“I hope it doesn’t close - it would be a body blow to Athlone. It is a central part of Arcadia, and its closure would have a knock-on effect,” he added.

Chairman of B&Q Ireland Ltd Brian Mooney said their “priority remains our employees and our customers”.

“Our colleagues have been briefed on today’s development, and understand that the company’s objective in seeking the appointment of an examiner is to try to protect jobs and retain competition and consumer choice in the market.”

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