Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Irish Catholic Bishops sunk €400,000 into loss-making Veritas in 2023, ahead of recent closure

THE BODY REPRESENTING Irish Catholic Bishops last year ploughed €400,000 into its loss-making publishing arm, Veritas, accounts show.

Last week, Veritas Communications announced that it would cease operations by the end of this year resulting in the closure of seven Veritas shops around the country with the loss of up to 80 jobs.

The most recent accounts for Veritas Communications reveal that the Irish Hierarchy made a bid last year to prop up the loss-making religious publisher.

The Irish Hierarchy made its intervention after a sharp downturn in fortunes for Veritas Communications. The firm recorded post tax losses of €224,868 in 2022 after recording a post tax profit of €252,259 for 2021 – a negative swing of €477,127.

In a note attached to the Veritas Communications accounts it states that subsequent to the year end of 2022 and prior to the approval of these financial statements, “the group was in receipt of short term funding from the Irish Hierarchy totalling €400,000”.

The note stated that the Veritas Communications Group prepared financial projections covering the period to June 2024 and the projections are based on assumptions which included improved revenues, improved working capital management allowing for business seasonality and continuing financial support from the Irish Hierarchy. 

The directors state that the going concern basis is appropriate based on the underlying assumptions and in addition, they have considered “the continuing support from the Irish Hierarchy, which has been evidenced by the receipt of the additional short term funding in 2023”.      

The directors stated that they were satisfied that the group will have sufficient funds to meet its liabilities as they fall due.

However, last Friday, Chair of the Board of Veritas, Chris Queenan said the decision to cease operations had been taken to commence an “orderly wind down” following a strategic review.

He explained that Veritas has seen a significant and sustained downturn in its business in recent years and blamed the “ever-changing market, societal dynamics, and evolving shopper habits” which he said had impacted both the competitiveness and commercial viability of the business.

Separate 2022 accounts for the financial arm of the Irish Hierarchy, the Hierarchy General Purposes Trust (HGPT) state that the €400,000 loan plus interest to Veritas was to be repaid no later than September 2023. 

The HGPT accounts show that Veritas Communication already owed the HGPT €625,584 at the end of 2022.

At the end of 2022, the HGPT’s total funds amounted to €5.24 million that included €1.74 million in restricted income funds.