‘Guineys slashed prices, then our jobs’

Guineys department store was a Dublin institution which fell victim to Ireland’s economic crisis. Keelin Riley explores the devastation left in the wake of its closure.


Guiney's Closed For Business

“A real Dublin institution, with great customers and staff and a great local buzz”, that’s how one Dublin punter described Talbot Street’s Guineys. “I’m sorry to see the store going, I’m saying goodbye to a childhood memory.”

Employees and consumers alike were left shell-shocked after the sudden closure of one of Dublin’s favourite retail stores.  On 17 September 2012, following the receivership of its parent store Clerys, Guineys was placed into liquidation. It was acquired by US investor firm Gordon Brothers for a cool €15 million.

Regular customers arrived to the doors of the beloved bargain store to find its shutters down and darkness inside. A small notice was placed in the window, stating “As a consequence of the appointment of joint receivers to Clery& Co (1941) PLC, this store will be closed until further notice”.

Guineys on Talbot Street was a traditional store. A family-run company, which began trading in 1971, it soon became a household name for quality, great value and excellent service.What one found in Guineys onTalbot Street was something rare in today’s retail world. Staff were said to go out of their way to help customers. They have been described as ‘genuine’, ‘extremely helpful’ and were said to ‘know their customers by name’.

Upon the closure of the iconic store, 10 employees lost their jobs. There were no proper goodbyes, no farewell parties, and instead of being left with fond memories of the store, Guineys’ staff now find themselves left with no wage, no holiday entitlements and no redundancy.

Nineteen jobs have also been lost in sister stores in Leopardstown and Naas, and a further 15 jobs in the Blanchardstown branch.

Mary Basaran, an employee of Guineys Talbot Street, would have celebrated her 40 year anniversary with the store on the 26thof this month. Mary began working in Guineys when she was just 15 years old. Since then she has worked her way up the ladder and told TV3’s The Morning Show how she had “made a lot of money for the company over the years” and how she had “turned things around and really improved on figures”.

Mary, along with other Guineys employees, protested outside Clerys to express their frustration at their treatment by the Gordon Brothers after years of loyal service. Graham Macken of SIPTU and Michael Meegan of Mandate also joined the protest. Signs and placards were donned stating, ‘Guineys made Talbot Street famous, then threw staff onto street’, and ‘Guineys slashed prices then our jobs’.

Employees of Guineys say their sole focus is on reemployment and securing it once they have it; they want to be treated with dignity and respect and believe the least they deserve is an apology. Gordon Brothers issued a statement saying its sole focus is on establishing a stable future for Clerys and have made it clear that they are not accepting responsibility for the pensions of Talbot Street’s former employees.

Image courtesy of  William Murphy via Flickr.

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