Fears for jobs as Superquinn in receivership

THE future of more than 2,800 jobs at Superquinn was uncertain last night following the appointment of a receiver to the supermarket chain.

The chain is believed to have debts of about €400 million. KMPG was appointed receiver by a syndicate of banks including Bank of Ireland, AIB and National Irish Bank.

Receiver Kieran Wallace of KPMG said last night that he was “very confident” of a quick sale.

“It’s certainly something we are going to work hard on. It is our key focus,” Mr Wallace said.

However, he declined to say if there had been any expressions of interest from potential buyers.

Mr Wallace said there was “absolutely no immediate threat to jobs” and that the company’s 24 stores would continue to trade as normal under existing management in conjunction with the receiver.

It is hoped the company can be sold as a going concern — although there were question marks last night over workers’ pension entitlements if staff were retained under new ownership.

Mr Wallace said customers entering Superquinn stores today would not see any changes.

Mandate Trade Union, which represents the workers, said it would be seeking urgent meetings with all the relevant parties including Superquinn management, the banks, the receiver and Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Minister Richard Bruton.

“Undoubtedly we are concerned about the jobs of more than 2,500 workers,” said Mandate assistant general secretary Gerry Light.

He said they had raised the matter with Mr Bruton in May “when rumours were doing the rounds” about the future of the company.

“We met him the same week that he launched his Jobs Initiative and we shared our concerns with him and said what better way to launch his new initiative than to ensure Superquinn jobs were safe.”

Mr Light said receivers had entered some stores around the country after 6pm yesterday to initiate formal receivership proceedings.

Superquinn’s beginnings go back more than 50 years to the time Feargal Quinn opened his first shop in Dundalk before expanding into Dublin, now home to 14 stores. The remainder are in Kilkenny, Carlow, Clonmel, Waterford, Limerick, Bray, Charlesland, Naas, and Portlaoise. Until 2005, the company was privately held by the Quinn family. It is now a subsidiary of Select Retail Holdings Limited.

In February 2007, Superquinn was part of a consortium that purchased the Montrose Hotel in Donnybrook from Jury’s Doyle for €40m. It is understood company investments have been hit by the drop in property values.

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