Saturday, July 13, 2024

Provisional liquidators appointed to firms operating 11 health food stores | BreakingNews.ie

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Provisional liquidators have been appointed by the High Court to businesses that operate 11 health food stores in the Leinster area.

The appointments were made in respect of GNC Well Ireland Unlimited Company, and the related THSD Unlimited Company, which has 86 full and part-time employees in Ireland.

The businesses traded under ‘The Health Food Store’ brand in respect of 10 stores and as ‘GNC’ in respect of one store.

The companies are part of the US-based GNC group, a health food retailer that operates over 4,000 stores in 50 different countries.

The 11 Irish stores are located in Dublin, Wicklow and Kildare, while the firm’s head office is based in Nutgrove Park in Rathfarnham, Dublin.

The High Court heard the Irish businesses have been loss-making in recent years, and were deemed by its parent company as being unlikely to become profitable and commercially sustainable.

Following a strategic review of the businesses, which had been supporting the firms by way of intracompany loans, the parent company decided it was no longer prepared to provide  further financial support which the firms required in order to continue to trade.

On Wednesday, Mr Justice Liam Kennedy said he was satisfied to appoint Nicholas O’Dwyer and John Boland of Grant Thornton as joint provisional liquidators of the related companies.

The judge said, based on the evidence put before the court, he was satisfied it was in the best interests of all the various stakeholders, including the employees, that the provisional liquidators were appointed.

Seeking the appointments, Stephen Walsh Bl, for the companies, said the financial situation of the companies had deteriorated following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The firms’ latest management accounts show they have significant balance sheet deficits of over €5.2 million.

Counsel said that the stores had found sales to be challenging in recent years, noting there had been a 12 per cent drop in sales in the year ending 2021, followed by a 5 per cent drop in 2022.

The firms had also experienced additional challenges, including increased business rates, wage increases, the implementation of VAT on products that had previously been zero-VAT, and the increase in costs on certain imported products.

Counsel said the parent had conducted a process aimed at finding a buyer for the Irish businesses.

Unfortunately it was not possible to complete a sale.

Counsel said, after considering all the options, the parent company decided to withdraw financial support it had been providing, and resolved to have the commercially unsustainable and insolvent firms wound up.

Counsel said the appointment of provisional liquidators by the court would help ensure an orderly winding up of the businesses.

The liquidators would be able to take steps to secure the stock and liaise with potential buyers with a view to maximising the proceeds available to creditors, counsel said, adding they would also be in a better position to deal with the firms’ landlords and employees.

The matter will return before the court later this month.

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