The appointment by Bank of Scotland/Lloyds of receivers KMPG to the asset of the Love family’s Shipton Group and its subsidiary company Douglas Developments Ltd came as a massive second blow to the family business, as its c €90m redeveloped Douglas Village Shopping Centre was shut by floods which wreaked havoc on suburban Douglas at the end of June. The Tesco store reopened there this week, with M&S and others still undertaking repair work.
At one stage, Shipton had ambitious plans and started to acquire sites to effectively join the two shopping centres across the heart of Douglas — through the very centre of the worst flood-affected areas, as it transpires.
The Love family has a retail development history in Cork dating back to the mid-1970s, when the original open mall Douglas Village Shopping Centre opened as Ireland’s second-ever shopping centre after Dublin’s Stillorgan. Clayton Love Jnr went on to develop Wilton Shopping Centre, as well as a second one in Douglas, the Pole Field in Blackpool, and a small centre in Navan.
More recently, it invested tens of millions of euros in land assembly for retail-led schemes in Carrigaline, in Fermoy (where the UDC and Bord Pleanala rejected a€100m plan for the Mart site) and Midleton, as well as its Douglas centre sites assemble. Strained relationships between the Love family and the Bank of Scotland/Lloyds group are said to have led to the decision to appoint a receiver to Douglas Court Shopping Centre, where debts attached to the development/site are likely to be around €80m.
Built around 1990, it has almost 60 units, Douglas Court is anchored by Dunnes Stores which owns its own unit. Planning was granted recently for a significant extension to the centre, aimed at facilitating Dunnes, but Penneys’ name was also mentioned as a possible other tenant. In addition, the family-owned group had acquired several houses by the start of the Rochestown Road for future profile development close to the Fingerpost roundabout.
KPMG’s Kieran Wallace and David Swinburne were appointed joint receivers to the asset by Bank of Scotland last Friday, with a pledge that it would continue to trade as normal. Market sources say BoS is advised by Green Property who may have a role in its management until a new owner is found. Rent roll at Douglas Court is said to be in the €2-2.5m bracket.
Shipton’s other retail assets, such as Blackpool Shopping Centre and Retail Park, and Douglas Village, remain under company control and are supported by Nama and the banks.