Blow for Irish retailing staff as Dorothy Perkins-Topshop owner announces store closures

Irish Staff and shopping centres in Ireland have been dealt a blow after the group that owns the Dorothy Perkins-Evans-Miss Selfridge stores said it was closing six shops, including in Cork, Dublin, and Galway.

The six Irish store closures are part of the 23 closures announced in Britain and Ireland by Arcadia, the retail group owned by Philip Green, which has put 520 jobs at risk.

The news came as a shock for its Irish staff and the trade union Mandate, which as recently as last week had agreed to a pay freeze for local employees. Arcadia earlier this year told its Irish staff it was facing financial difficulties and had requested they accept a pay freeze.

The stores to close include one in Cork, four in Dublin and one in Galway. The Cork closure involves the Dorothy Perkins-Evans; the Dublin closures involve Evans-Wallis, Topshop-Miss Selfridge, Topshop-Topman, and Wallis; while a Miss Selfridge store is to close in Galway.

The union has sought an immediate meeting with Arcadia. The closures are further evidence of the tough trading conditions facing UK-owned retailers. They have often cited high rents in both Britain and Ireland for making matters worse.

Meanwhile, Marks and Spencer has highlighted continued difficult trading conditions in Ireland as part of a tough year which saw group profits fall 10%.

In its annual results, the retailer said it has continued to find trading conditions in Ireland “difficult” even after it improved its website specifically for online shoppers in Ireland. Its share price fell more than 9% on the profit fall and as it announced the terms of a discounted £600m (€680m) rights issue to partly fund a joint venture with online grocer Ocado announced in February.

The company asked to be judged on how it is changing as much as its financial results, even after it reported a third straight drop in annual profits.

M&S is closing weaker stores, revamping ranges and investing online, trying to avoid the fate of a string of UK chains that have collapsed amid competition from the internet and rising costs.

However, after several failed reboots over the past decade, the jury is out on whether it can rise to the challenges posed by fast-fashion chains such as Zara and H&M in its clothing business, or thrive in a notoriously competitive UK food market. Despite the 10% drop in annual profit, M&S highlighted green shoots of recovery and said it would step-up its reinvention.

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