THERE are fears for 85 jobs in Limerick after DIY giant B&Q Ireland announced it will go into examinership.
B&Q has a store at the City East Retail Park on the Tipperary Road, on the outskirts, a branch which opened seven years ago.
The company has been granted permission by the High Court to go into examinership.
This is a process which allows the company a period of three months to restructure its debts, and ensure its future viability.
At present, the store here in Limerick is not thought to be under threat of closure, with B&Q stating only branches in Waterford and Athlone are expected to shut.
But it is feared the number of people working in Limerick could be cut under a survival plan put forward by the company.
Chief executive of the Limerick Chamber Maria Kelly acknowledged that it is an unsettling time for the staff - and said high rental costs are to blame for B&Q having to take this course of action.
“It is just another indication of the wider climate we are in. It is a sector which has been particularly impacted by the recession, which relies on the domestic economy,” she said.
She urged government to look at high upward-only rents.
“It is an area we are looking into as a Chamber, but it needs some special consideration by government,” she added, “Rents should be linked to market rates and while there is talk about changes to legislation that do not permit upward only clauses for future leases the government has to act to give struggling retailers a break on existing agreements that are forcing these companies into examinership and putting jobs at risk.”
Ms Kelly said the examinership of B&Q Ireland highlights that economic recovery plans are not moving fast enough.
“We have come into the new year, hoping it will be the start of positive news of things to come, but then we have been hit by a succession of national-type closures,” she said.
Even though we are only one month into 2013, Limerick, and the country, have already been hit hard by retail closures.
Receivers closed HMV’s two Limerick branches at the start of this month, while BlackTie formal wear also went into liquidation. Clothing store Pamela Scott is also in examinership.
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