Clerys department store on O’Connell Street in Dublin shut its doors abruptly on Friday night after the business was sold to Natrium Ltd for an undisclosed price. 

Staff were told on Friday evening that the store had closed and their jobs were gone. The iconic retailer employed 130 staff and around 330 other people were employed by the 50 concession holders, who operated in the store. About a dozen staff staged a sit-in on Friday night in protest.

The Dublin High Court appointed Kieran Wallace and Eamonn Richardson of KPMG as joint provisional liquidators to the company that operated the store.

Justice Paul Gilligan was told that the company operating Clerys must immediately cease trading and close down to prevent any further debts arising, the Irish Times reports.

Sharon Maguire worked at the store for more than 18 years as a hairdresser.

“We were told at 6pm the company was gone into liquidation and is closed from now,” said the 45-year-old from Baldoyle, Dublin. “We’re devastated. I’ve only booked my holidays yesterday and I’ve no job now. We don’t know what’s going to happen.

OCS Operations Ltd and OCS Properties Ltd, which owns the store, are both owned by OSC Investment Holdings Ltd and form the OCS group of companies whose ultimate parent is Gordon Brothers, the Irish Times reports.

Gordon Brothers, which acquired Clerys in 2012 from receivers, put the store on the market in January.

Following Friday’s sale, Natrium removed OCS Operations and transferred the shares in that company to insolvency practioner Jim Brydie, Kingsmere Road, London for €1. 

Byrdie and Brendan Cooney, another insolvency practioner, were appointed directors of OCS Operations. After they examined the company’s financial position, it was was determined the company had no alternative other than to seek the appointment of liquidators.

OCS Operations had traded at a loss since 2012 and was now balance sheet insolvent.  The company lost €4.3m between August 2012 and January 2015.

Anne-Marie Cleary, from Phibsboro, Dublin, was the last customer to exit before the 162-year-old retailer shut its doors.

“It’s horrific for the staff,” she said. “I like it as a store. I like to support it because it’s an old traditional Dublin store and a great old Dublin institution. I’m shocked. I’m really sorry to hear it and I hope something can be done so they don’t lose their jobs.”