Just weeks ago, a bitter dispute almost tore apart the €35 million property empire controlled by the developer Greg Kavanagh and his brother Hugh. The case was settled just days after it was taken, but the action outlined a series of friction points between the two brothers, ranging from a late-night altercation after a rugby match to an ill-fated property play in New York.

However, in his pleadings, Hugh Kavanagh also pointed to Bezzu, a recently launched app that advertises the wares of hundreds of mainstream retailers allowing customers to shop locally from their mobile phone. His brother Greg is the founder of the platform, but the sums of money flowing from their core construction business to fund the app was causing consternation for Hugh Kavanagh.

According to Hugh, the start-up Bezzu, incorporated last September, required very substantial funds to develop and operate. He claimed Greg kept asking him to provide funds for the app that were meant to go towards ongoing construction projects. He alleged this was causing serious cash flow problems, resulting in delayed payments to sub-contractors who were angry and putting him under pressure. As the matter was settled Greg never got to respond to these allegations, but he is understood to deny them.

The case did however highlight Bezzu, raising the question: given the scale of the property business – estimated to be worth €35 million in court papers – just how much money has gone into the fashion app which Greg Kavanagh has described as “a chance for the local retailer to fight back against the online retail giants.” And, beyond Greg Kavanagh, who else was funding it?

The developer Greg Kavanagh.

New documents give an insight into the finance and financiers behind the app, which Greg Kavanagh recently said was adding 2,000 new members a day and expanding in the UK, mainland Europe, America and Europe.

To date, some €6.7 million has been invested into Bezzu corporation by way of a rights issue, a massive sum for any start-up – especially one that has eschewed institutional venture capital and state funding.

Based on allocation of shares, Kavanagh is the main shareholder. Structured Marshalled Investments, a key company within the property group, owns 59.5 per cent of the equity in the business. On a pro rata basis, this would place Kavanagh’s investment at €4 million in the new platform, although the real figure could be higher as others might have been granted stakes as part of their employment deals.

Shane Byrne and Philip Kirwan, two app developers who control the tech business Showoff, own 1.1 per cent each, as does the journalist Nick Webb, who is a director of the fashion app.

Pat Doran, the packaging millionaire, has a 16 per cent stake. His investment house Woodbury Capital is a private investment firm that invests non-institutional, private, family capital in businesses. It portfolio includes property in Dublin, Belfast and Warsaw, Poland. Doran made his name and money with the Americk Packaging group which he grew to a €140 million revenue business.

Michael Murphy, through a company called Spaceway, also holds a 16 per cent stake. The Louth business has a range of other interests from property to recruitment.

Lana Gregan, the owner of Dressup Market, an online marketplace for second-hand designer closed, first pitched the idea to Kavanagh. She is an old school friend, and her equity holding is 2.7 per cent. A co-founder of the business, she was also the COO, although her profile on LinkedIn says she left this position in April.

Shane Byrne and Philip Kirwan, two app developers who control the tech business Showoff, own 1.1 per cent each, as does the journalist Nick Webb, who is a director of the fashion app.

Former Army Rangers Alan O’Brien, Ger Reidy and Robert Stafford, who feature in the RTE reality television series Ultimate Hell Week, have 0.1 per cent each. All three are involved in the commercial and logistical roll out of the business. Businessman Alan Quinlan, with an address in Churchtown, Dublin 14, also has a small stake.


The company brought forward its scheduled launch to take advantage of the Covid-19 shutdown. The company aims to provide a platform for independent bricks and mortar fashion retailers to sell online. There is no commission or service charge from the app; instead, it plans to generate revenue through advertising and sponsorship.

In addition, Kavanagh told The Sunday Times recently that it is aims to earn commissions through the provision of consumer credit through a regulated financial services partner, a model also used by Shop Direct.

Kavanagh emerged in business circles in the wake of the last financial crash when he raised funds from individuals to buy distressed property assets. He left his previous business New Generations Homes in 2016 after reaching a deal with his business partner, the property developer Pat Crean. Although somewhat publicity shy, he has also described himself as the Ronaldo of the property market and has sent letters on the economy to various policymakers and the Central Bank.

The recent court action with his brother shed light on his career and his business. Hugh claimed in court that the Bezzu funding was not the first time Greg had created cash flow issues by using company money for non-construction activities. Allegedly the developer drew down “a very significant sum” from companies in the SMIL group to pay for his wedding in 2018. However, it should be noted that Greg Kavanagh has not had an opportunity to put forward his side of events as the case was settled. If the case had gone ahead, his side of the story would have been different.

For the full story of that dispute, read: Fights, provocation and high fashion: The bitter dispute that almost tore the Kavanagh property empire apart