By Harry Keaney
Under an agreement that splits up the operations of Blarney Woollen Mills following a family dispute over future control of the Irish company, the former chief executive, Marian O’Gorman, née Kelleher, her husband, Michael, and sister Bernadette Kelleher-Nolan, will get the Kilkenny shops in Nassau Street and the Icon Center in Leopardstown, Dublin; the Blarney Woollen Mills stores in Killarney, Cobh and Kilkenny, and the Sweater Shop in Killarney. They will also get the firm’s property portfolio.
The three Kelleher brothers, Pat, Frank and Kevin, will keep the Blarney Woollen Mills shop in Nassau Street, Dublin; the Blarney Castle Knitwear company, the mail order firm, the Blarney Woollen Mills shop, Christy’s Hotel and the firm’s share in the Blarney Park Hotel, all in Blarney; the Donegal Bay knitwear factory in Donegal and the Club Tricot shop in Grafton Street, Dublin.
As part of the deal, the sisters will keep the Kilkenny brand, while the brothers will keep the Blarney brand.
The three brothers currently hold 56.5 percent of the firm, while the two sisters and Michael O’Gorman have 43 percent. A three-month period has been allowed under the deal for the details to be worked out.
Marian O’Gorman is to become chief executive of the Kilkenny entity, with Pat and Kevin Kelleher believed to be competing to become chief executive of the other side, according to news reports in Ireland.
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Before the split, Marian O’Gorman was chief executive, Pat Kelleher was company secretary, Frank Kelleher was responsible for capital development, Kevin Kelleher was marketing manager, and Bernadette Kelleher-Nolan managed the firm’s Dublin shops.
Boardroom tensions resulted in Freda Hayes (née Kelleher) resigning in 1993.
In September 1998, Marian O’Gorman, her husband, Michael, and sister Bernadette, went to the High Court to prevent Pat, Frank and Kevin Kelleher ousting Mr. O’Gorman from the board and replacing him with Frank Kelleher’s wife, Esther.
The High Court granted an injunction preventing Michael O’Gorman’s removal and Ms. Kelleher’s appointment. It subsequently ruled that the attempt to remove Michael O’Gorman was invalid because it did not comply with company law procedures.
The two factions within the Blarney Woollen Mills company were back in the High Court in July when Mr. and Ms. O’Gorman and Kelleher-Nolan were granted an injunction preventing an extraordinary general meeting from being held. They also secured an order preventing steps being taken to exercise voting rights attached to disputed shares in the company.
The Irish Chamber of Commerce in the U.S. will host a meet and greet business-card exchange on Sept. 30 from 6- 8 p.m. in the Fitzpatrick Manhattan Hotel, Lexington Avenue and 57th Street. Special guest will be Carl Pilgrim, minister of tourism in the West Indies island of St. Lucia. Tickets cost $25 per person, payable at the door. Reservations recommended. Details, (908) 286-1300.
Eleven people have been killed in construction accidents in Ireland this year. Last week, Gavin Brady died when he was buried alive on a site in Ballyconnell, Co. Cavan.
Guinness heads up
Guinness Ireland, part of the Diageo group, has recorded a 16 percent increase in operating profit to £188 million in the year ended June 30, 1999. Sales increased by 9 percent to £907 million (euro1.15 billion). Most of the growth was volume and prices contributed about 2 percent.
Capital investment continued at a high level, amounting to £54 million last year. Most of this, £29 million, went on the redevelopment of the old brewery at St. James’s Gate in Dublin.
Managing director Brian Duffy said Guinness Ireland is at the center of a significant global business and, he added, costs need to be cut further.
Clothing industry woes
One of Dublin’s oldest clothing firms, J.A. Hickey, is going into voluntary liquidation with the loss of 170 jobs in Inchicore and in Athy, Co Kildare. Some 40 workers at the company’s plant in Athy were laid off at the end of April.
Also last week, U.S. multinational Fruit of the Loom said it was putting its remaining 1,900 workers in Donegal and Derry on a three-day working week. Early this year, 770 workers lost their jobs when Fruit of the Loom closed its plants in Buncrana, Milford and Raphoe in County Donegal.