IRELAND’S OLDEST SPORTS store, Elverys, returned to profitability in 2014 after coming through the examinership process.

The company, which employed an average of 564 people in 54 stores across the country two years ago, went into examinership in February 2014. Examinership is a survival mechanism used by companies that are in danger of going bust.

Elverys, which was founded in 1847, was taken over in a management buyout after going through the process. The management team beat off competition from several other bidders, including Sports Direct, the company owned by UK billionaire Mike Ashley at the centre of recent controversy over staff treatment.

Back to profit

According to new accounts filed for Elverys, the company made an operating profit of just under €1 million during 2014 compared to a loss of more than €3 million the year before.

Revenue rose fractionally to more than €68 million, which the company directors stated was a “very good result”, while the combined cost of sales and administrative expenses dropped about €3 million on the previous year.

The sports chain, which is linked to international sporting retail giant Intersport, had built up huge losses before it went through the examinership process. At the end of 2013 it had accumulated losses of nearly €24 million, up from around €19 million the year before.

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Most of these debts were wiped when the Mayo-based company went through examinership. Over €18 million in bank loans, along with €1.8 million in rent and service charges, were written off during the process, while the firm raised about €6 million in equity funding.

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These provisions largely cancelled out the losses built up and the company finished the year with accumulated losses of just €3.5 million.

More reasonable terms

The firm said that after the examinership process was finished “more reasonable terms were agreed with landlords and creditors”.

“This allowed the company to right size its costs, particularly around rents, and also to right-size its debts,” it said.

Neverthless, the directors flagged several possible risks to the company’s business, including “challenges with generating sales and competing with internet sales”.

A spokeswoman for Elverys said the company achieved more, positive growth in 2015 and it now employs as many as 700 people – depending on the time of year – in 57 stores trading under its brand.

“We have opened four new stores this year to date and completely refitted two others in addition to launching a brand new website with plans to open more in 2016,” she said.

Written by Paul O’Donoghue and posted on