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Roches Stores (1901 - 2006)
Founded in Cork in 1901 by William Roche, as a small furniture shop, the chain grew to eleven stores throughout Ireland. In October 2007, Roches Stores ceased operating. Today, the Roche family leases the buildings which formerly housed Roches Stores to Debenhams Ireland. Debenhams mainly supports and sells a wide range of British goods, from cosmetics to houseware to clothes and stationery.
Roches Stores caused huge controversy in the 1970s and early 1980s when it demolished Frescati House in Blackrock, the home of Lord Edward FitzGerald. This is to this day still recognised as a major cultural loss to the Blackrock area and with the development of newer shopping centres in Dublin, the justification for a centre at Frescati has diminished with the memories of the chain. Within sight of such an action, the property was demolished after hours to prevent protesters from mounting a demonstration.
Most of the larger Roches Stores locations had a supermarket on-site. In 1998 these stores became franchises of SuperValu, branded as "SuperValu at Roches Stores". However between 2004 and 2006, the supermarkets were closed down, with the exception of the store at Patrick St in Cork, which continues to trade as a SuperValu.
Debenhams Ireland (2007 – present)
Roches Stores also had an aborted attempt in the Northern Ireland market with a store in Newry. This was closed in 2002 and announced that it would be redeveloped into a Debenhams store. It was not an acquisition, as the staff from Roches were made redundant and then were welcome to reapply to Debenhams when it opened 2 years later, although many by this time had found new jobs. This was the first contact between Debenhams and Roches and in July 2006, Irish newspapers reported that Roches Stores was in discussion with the British department store chain Debenhams plc, with regard to a possible sale of the business.
On 8 August 2006, it was announced that Debenhams would buy the leaseholds of 9 of the 11 Roches Stores for €29 million. Under the deal, the stores, including those in St. Patrick's Street in Cork and Henry Street in Dublin would be rebranded as Debenhams stores. The Roche family retained the ownership of the stores, and Debenhams became the new tenants. Marks & Spencer had agreed to acquire the company's Wilton outlet in Cork, however that deal later fell through due to a dispute over rent with the owners of the centre. As a result both the Wilton store as well as the Nutgrove store (in Dublin) closed, along with Roches Stores' head office.
Roches Stores advertised their sale in October 2006 as a "closing down sale" as part of the transition towards the Debenhams brand. Sections of stores were replaced with Debenhams stock, fittings, signage and designers such as John Rocha and Jasper Conran. The Limerick store was the first to be rebranded, followed by Blanchardstown and Tallaght.
The St. Patrick's Street store in Cork was rebranded as Debenhams on 30 January 2007, but the Roches Stores name remains visible as it is sculpted on the wall over the large arch window over the front entrance to the store, which was the original Roches Stores branch. Many customers still refer to the store as Roches Stores rather than Debenhams. However, it was a different story in Limerick where a mosaic on the ground outside the main door was removed. In March 2007, Debenhams reported that all but two of the stores had been rebranded, and launched a major marketing campaign under the Debenhams name.
Due to poor sales Debenhams Retail (Ireland) announced in January 2010 that it would slash 170 jobs within its Republic of Ireland stores.
In November 2010 Debenhams launched Debenhams.ie, the retailer's new Irish online store.
- Blackrock (Dublin) (formerly Roches Stores Blackrock)
- Blanchardstown (formerly Roches Stores Blanchardstown)
- Cork (Mahon Point)
- Cork (St. Patrick's Street) (formerly Roches Stores Cork)
- Dublin (Henry Street) (formerly Roches Stores Dublin)
- Galway (formerly Roches Stores Galway)
- Limerick (formerly Roches Stores Limerick)
- Tallaght (formerly Roches Stores Tallaght)
- Tralee (formerly Roches Stores Tralee)
- Waterford (formerly Roches Stores Waterford)
- "Debenhams beefs up Irish presence". BBC News. 8 August 2006. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
- "Fears for jobs at Roches Stores in Cork". RTÉ News. 26 January 2007. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
- 320 jobs to go as staff at retailer and airline face axe - National News, Frontpage - Independent.ie