The future of the Athlone branch of B&Q continues to look bleak, as the examiner appointed to the struggling DIY chain emphasised this week that the survival of the company in Ireland will “require the closure of the Athlone store”.
Speaking as the examinership was confirmed in the High Court on Tuesday, Declan McDonald of Pricewaterhouse Cooper, said the company is currently finalising its plan for proposed store closures. Forty-five jobs are set to be lost in the Athlone branch if the planned closure goes ahead.
“To provide clarity for our store colleagues as quickly as possible, we are now finalising our proposed Store Closure Critical Path Activities and are regularly communicating directly with colleagues.
“We appreciate that this is a very uncertain time for our employees, particularly in Athlone and Waterford. We will be putting every effort into ensuring that our ongoing communication is open and as supportive as possible for all affected employees.
“Whilst these measures will impact some of our store colleagues, our focus is on identifying and implementing changes that allow B&Q Ireland to survive going forward,” read a statement from the company on Wednesday.
Mr McDonald was appointed as examiner to B&Q Ireland on Tuesday, following the filing of a petition by the company on January 31.
The Court heard that B&Q Ireland has debts of €17.3 million to its parent company Kingfisher plc, and that there have been expressions of interest from four different investors.
Mr Justice Peter Kelly said the company should have a reasonable prospect of continuing to trade if a number of conditions were met, including store closures and other cost saving measures.
The Athlone store continues to trade during the examinership process, along with B&Q’s eight other branches in Cork, Galway, Limerick, Naas, Waterford, Liffey Valley, Swords, and Tallaght. Employees continue to be paid and customer orders, gift vouchers, and credit notes will be honoured. Suppliers will also be paid for goods and services provided during the period of examinership.
B&Q employs 190 full-time staff and 500 part-time staff in Ireland.