Avoca was bought from its founders, the Pratt family, by the giant US Aramark Corporation in late 2015, for €64m, and also set for an Avoca imprint are Galway and the UK.
Following the sale to Aramark, Avoca’s MD, Simon Pratt, and his wife, Monique, spent €975,000 in 2016 buying a West Cork holiday home, Kitchen Cove, next door to Graham Norton. The house, at the water’s edge in Ahakista, was bought via local agents, Charles P McCarthy.
Now, the Pratts may add a Cork business to their portfolio, or may consider partnering with an existing base for a mix to include food, retail, and gardens.
Already employing 1,000 in Ireland, Avoca’s 12th outlet now is open at Dunboyne. It has 45,000 sq ft of retail space and opened this week on the footprint of the former Plantagen Garden Centre, becoming its largest retail offering and includes fashion rugs, food, butcher, lifestyle products and concession outlets, plus 20,000 sq ft of herb garden and garden centre, a 200 indoor-seater Fork Café, food market, and pizza truck, etc.
Last week, Simon Pratt, who is committed to working and expanding Avoca for Aramark — to include the UK and ultimately the US — said “we’re looking at six or eight sites. We are looking, first, at Cork, then, possibly, Galway. We are looking for major sites on the main arteries into those cities.”
Last night, he told the“we are actively looking for suitable properties in Cork. We would love to find an out-of-town destination type location and would consider converting a garden centre or old mill if the location was right. The ideal Avoca site is an unusual building with beautiful views.”
The Avoca name was previously associated in Cork with locations like the Elysian, and the Capitol, right next door to the English Market, but it didn’t act on either. Sources say it may also consider existing retail parks with character, east or west of the city.
Might the former vacated Atlantic Homestore/Woodies, on Pouladuff Road, become an Avoca destination on Cork city’s southside? Or the CMP dairy site at Kinsale Road, now called Creamfields, currently hosting Funderland and destined for big box retailing?
Separately, the Irish head of Aramark, Donal O’Brien, has previously said it would look at Cork, Waterford, and Limerick, as well as at Dublin and the UK.
They certainly have the funds to go site scouting in Cork and elsewhere: based in Philadelphia, in the US, Aramark Corp is represented in 22 countries, has a turnover of $14bn a year, and employs 256,000 people across its many subsidiaries. That’s as many employees as the population of the greater Cork area.