Irish retailer Dunnes Stores is reportedly facing a possible winding up of the company over its alleged failure to honour a EUR21.6m (US$27.9m) bill for building works at a shopping centre.

On Monday, the retailer was issued with a winding-up petition by insolvent construction group Holtglen in a case listed before the Commercial Court, The Irish Times reported.

According to the publication, Holtglen constructed a shopping centre in Kilkenny in which Dunnes agreed to be the anchor tenant. The centre was completed in 2009 but Holtglen later became insolvent and its loans were transferred to National Asset Management, a company of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA).

It is understood NAMA wrote to Dunnes in October last year warning that unless it was paid the sum within seven days, Holtglen would proceed to publish a petition to wind up the retailer on grounds it is "unable to pay its debts and/or it is just and equitable that it be wound up".

Dunnes has reportedly said it is "robustly solvent" but "unwilling" to pay the money to Holtglen on a number of grounds, including that of the viability of the centre at Ferrybank in Kilkenny.

According to the Irish Times, chief executive Margaret Heffernan says NAMA will be held responsible for the "very significant losses" her company will "inevitably" experience if a petition is pursued to wind up the company. 

She has accused NAMA of failing to address any of the "substantial" issues raised by Dunnes concerning the centre and said a report prepared by a planning consultant for Dunnes expressed the view the centre was not compliant with planning permission.

Dunnes did not return comment at the time of going to press and NAMA said it has "a strict policy of not commenting on/off record in respect of Court Action that is ongoing".