The Belgian owners of game-maker Cartamundi received almost €31 million in dividends from Ireland in the years before closing its Waterford factory with the loss of 234 jobs, corporate records reveal.
Generations of children and adults have played board games such as Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Connect 4 and Cluedo in the decades since the former MB Games set up in Waterford in 1977.
Now Cartamundi, which took over the business in 2015, has blamed a post-Covid slump in demand for games and rising costs for the decision, announced yesterday, to shut the Irish factory in August.
Company filings show the Irish unit paid out big dividends to Cartamundi in each of the years since it came under its ownership.
A €2.9 million dividend payment from Ireland was approved last July after Cartamundi received €3.9 million in 2021 and €3.2 million in 2020. Such payments followed a €5.7 million dividend in 2019, €6.4 million in 2018, €5.5 million in 2017 and €3.2 million in 2016.
After company chiefs told Waterford staff their fate yesterday, there was no comment from Cartamundi on its dividends.
Union leader said they will strive in coming weeks to save the jobs. “Absolutely devastating news,” said Ciarán Scallan, a Siptu organiser.
“For those jobs that can’t be saved, we will seek to negotiate a redundancy package which recognises and reflects the loyalty and commitment of this workforce for many decades.”
Cartamundi, based in Turnhout near Antwerp, claims to be the world’s largest manufacturer of board games and playing cards.
Company accounts for Cartamundi Ireland Ltd, signed off only last October, described a “profitable and cash generative” business and said there were no material uncertainties “that may cast significant doubt” over its ability to continue as a going concern.
However, Cartamundi has told staff closure was the result of structural overcapacity and falling demand. “Sales during Covid and through 2021 were strong and peaked mid-2022. The situation has been aggravated by the increase in raw material and energy costs, which has impacted manufacturers globally,” the company said.
David Germis, a Cartamundi director, said closure was “particularly” regrettable: “The factory in Waterford has been suffering losses for many months now and this is not sustainable.”