Investors show interest as O'Briens flounders

31 July, 2009
Page 10 

The head office of Irish sandwich chain O'Briens has been put into the equivalent of administration with debts of over E4m (£3.46m).

Paul McCann of Grant Thornton, the examiner (the Irish equivalent of an administrator) appointed by the Irish High Court to handle the case, said nine different investors had expressed interest in investing in O'Briens. Negotiations were also taking place with major landlords to secure rent reductions across the company's 85 franchised shops in Ireland, an unspecified number of which are to be closed to make the business viable, he told the High Court.

O'Briens put its separate UK arm, comprising 109 franchised outlets, into administration at the end of August in a bid to negotiate rent reductions with UK landlords and sell off leases. Chairman Brody Sweeney said the decision to put O'Briens into examinership was caused by a collapse in property values. "We have had to close a number of stores, as some landlords remain intransigent and refuse to reduce rents, and some of our franchisees have struggled to pay."

O'Briens employs 20 people directly in Ireland and 800 indirectly across 85 franchised outlets.





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