Fears for jobs as liquidator appointed to BlackTie

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

LIMERICK could be hit with another high-profile retail closure, after it was confirmed BlackTie Formalwear was going into liquidation next week.

LIMERICK could be hit with another high-profile retail closure, after it was confirmed BlackTie Formalwear was going into liquidation next week.

The firm, founded by former Dragon’s Den star Niall O’Farrell has been open in Limerick for more than 20 years. It has three staff working in the store in O’Connell Street, next to the Augustinian’s Church.

The liquidator will take charge on Friday, February 1, with the stores remaining open for the foreseeable future, in the hope that a new buyer is found.

The move to liquidation was taken in consultation with BlackTie’s bankers “due to a combination of market and economic factors”, a company statement read.

These included a decline in the formal wear rental market, increased lower cost retailers on the high-street, higher operating costs and unaffordably high levels of rates, the statement continued.

A staff member at the Limerick branch said they are not panicking at the moment, amid rumours that a takeover from a British firm had already been agreed.

Limerick Chamber chief executive Maria Kelly described the news as “really tough” for the staff, especially so early in the new year.

“It is an awful blow, and a personal blow for the employees there. We had just done a survey of units, and seen that there was a drop in the vacancy rate in the city. It shows there is activity coming in, but this highlights that we are not out of the difficult times yet,” she said.

However, she said that if any jobs were to be lost, it is a better environment to be seeking work now than 12 months ago.

“We have had jobs announcements, with rumours of others. Now, losing your job is not as bad as it was 12 months ago. There are probably better prospects,” she said.

Mr O’Farrell personally informed all staff of Blacktie Formalwear’s 11 shops on Wednesday morning.

He said: “I deeply regret having to make this decision. I spent most of my career establishing and developing Blacktie, and have done all I could to bolster its prospects. I have not drawn a salary from the business for the past four years, and even invested substantial personal resources. I would like to pay tribute to Blacktie’s employees for their hard work, dedication and loyalty, and will ensure I am available to each and every one of them to answer personally any queries that they may have.”