INTERESTING to see Jed Dowling popping up recently in relation Donal MacNally Opticians Ltd (DMO), the company behind some of the entities that trade under the Donal McNally name (in the likes of Sutton, Swords and Malahide), which has just gone into examinership. The news won’t be too surprising for fans of Goldhawk, who will be well aware that the outfit was feeling the pressure from low-cost competitors like Specsavers (see The Phoenix, 27/4/17).
DMO is owned by Ian Tighe, who took control of the business in 1995 along with his partner, Diarmuid Keane. Tighe became full owner in 2012, bringing optician Dowling – best known as the festival director for Dublin LGBT Pride – on board as a director of a number of companies in the group around the same time. Tighe also financially backed Dowling’s trendy vintage eyewear retailer, The Opticians, on Kevin Street.
It was claimed in the High Court that Dowling became managing director of DMO in 2016. The court heard he struck a deal to “take over” the company by paying off Tighe’s €2.7m loan to DMO but, confusingly, there is no sign of this transaction in the company’s accounts and it still owed Tighe over €1m at the end of 2017. It was also claimed in court that, during his stint at the helm, Dowling failed to make a dent in the company’s €4m accumulated losses.
Tighe regained control of the firm last September, closing a number of the chain’s loss-making shops, and Dowling resigned as a director shortly after. Along with his partner, Colm Molloy, Dowling is still listed as a director at SpecsExpress (Bray) Ltd, the Tighe company behind The Opticians.