Retail jobs ‘could survive’

A proposed investment could secure 29 jobs at well-known fashion outlet McElhinneys of Athboy, Co Meath, the High Court has been told.

Mr Justice Donald Binchy agreed to adjourn an application by Bank of Ireland- appointed receiver Barry Forrest, seeking to have members of the Sweeney family, which operates the company, committed to prison for their alleged failure to comply with an agreement from last October.

The motion for attachment and committal of Neal Sweeney, the store’s general manager and the directors of McElhinney’s Fashion Ltd, is being contested.

The court was told the parties were prepared to have the proceedings put back for weeks to see if a proposed third party investor was prepared to come up with a sum of €600,000 to buy the premises.

Meanwhile, the store will continue trading. Judge Binchy adjourned until October.

He said if no evidence of the investment was provided to the receiver and Bank of Ireland by then, the applications for attachment and committal could proceed.

Last year, the receiver sought possession orders for three premises: McElhinney’s Department Store, McElhinney’s Bridal Shop and a property known as Guinans, all located at Main Street, Athboy.

Mr Forrest was appointed in March 2013, by Bank of Ireland after the owners of the properties, which had been put up as security, failed to repay €2.34m owed to the bank.

Last October, the High Court was told the matter had been resolved as part of an agreement in which the owners of the business agreed to hand over possession of three properties sought by the bank.

The court heard Mr Forrest had been unable to secure peaceful possession of the property and brought a motion seeking to have Neal Sweeney and the directors of McElhinney’s Fashions Ltd committed to prison.

That application, if it proceeds next month, will be contested by the former owners.


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