Iconic Cork building set to fetch over €70m

The iconic Roches Stores building, in the centre of Cork City, is up for sale and is expected to make more than €70m for its owners, the Roche family.

Roches Stores, St Patrick's Street in 1927, shortly after opening its doors to the public.

Investors are being canvassed for the instantly recognisable department store on St Patrick’s Street, which is described by selling agents Colliers as “a world-class department store investment”.

The store dates to 1922, built after the burning of Cork by British auxiliaries during the War of Independence in 1920 which decimated the city centre, and destroyed over 40 business premises.

It has been associated with generations of the Roche family whose ‘needle to an anchor’ store business empire began in Cork in 1901.

Roches sold its nine Irish stores in 2006 to Debenhams as the UK-based retail company strove to enlarge its Irish footprint.

Roches got a reported €29m for the business at the time, plus many more millions for stock, but held onto their main stores as landlord to Debenhams at Henry Street Dublin and at St Patrick’s Street, Cork.

Debenhams Ireland restructured last year after trading difficulties during the recession, saving over 1,300 jobs. It also appeared in the High Court during 2016 in a rent row with Richard Roche. The publicity-averse family is known to have considerable other property and business investments in Ireland, the UK and further afield, and at the time of the 2006 Roches Stores sale were said to have property assets of €500m.

Market sources say the guide price is €70m to €75m, and it will be of interest to strong retail investors, funds and real estate investment trusts.

It’s thought Debenhams paid a revised rent of €3.25m for the 150,000sq ft Cork store on a 25-year lease from 2006, and the dome-fronted building was significantly revamped in the late 1990s when a top-lit atrium was inserted.

The sale does not include a section of the former Roches Stores which is let to SuperValu linking to the Merchants Quay Shopping Centre, or the 700-space multistorey carpark.

Commercial Property: 19-23

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