DUBLIN Music and video retailer HMV HMV.L closed its 16 Irish stores on Wednesday after a receiver was appointed to assess their viability, a day after the company sought protection from creditors in Britain.
After years of struggling against competition from online retailers, supermarkets and download sites, Deloitte was appointed administrator in Britain on Tuesday to try to salvage some of its 223 British stores.
However, the retailer requested on Wednesday that a receiver be appointed to its Irish operations, which employs around 300 people. Unlike administration, known as examinership in Ireland, receivership is not aimed at keeping the company operating as a going concern.
While the retailer's British stores have remained open, a notice on the shut doors of its flagship unit on Dublin's main shopping thoroughfare of Grafton Street said it was "closed until further notice."
"The receiver will institute an assessment of the viability of the company and its cost structure, including property occupational costs. All efforts will be made by the receiver to secure a purchaser for the stores," Deloitte Ireland said in a statement.
Staff in HMV's two Limerick stores held sit-ins on Wednesday night after being left in doubt as to whether or not they will receive wages due to them, Jan O'Sullivan, a junior minister from the south-west county, said on Twitter.
One staff member contacted by Reuters said the 12 staff in the Limerick city store were waiting for clarification on whether they would receive wages for the past month and would leave once they do.
Retailers in Ireland's main shopping centres saw costs soar during a national property boom that burst spectacularly in 2008, sparking a financial crisis that pushed Ireland into an EU/IMF bailout and left the likes of HMV saddled with high rents and collapsed demand for its products.
While Ireland has avoided returning to recession like much of the euro zone, its mild economic growth is driven by robust exports with consumer spending set to contract again this year.
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Greg Mahlich and Leslie Gevirtz)