WITH two shops shutting in Banbridge in the space of ten days, locals have voiced their fears for the future of the town centre.
Peacocks in Newry Street was closed on Wednesday afternoon after a visit from administrators KPMG. Some of the stores in the Group were saved but the Banbridge store was shut with immediate effect as all 11 staff were made redundant.
Joyce Malcolmson, store manager for the past nine years, said the decision to close was “a travesty” for the town.
Bonmarche, which sits across the road from Peacocks, will close for good on Saturday. The eight staff there were informed of the shop’s future at the end of January.
Emma Finney, manager at Bonmarche said staff are trying to keep busy until their last day of trading.
“I don’t think it will hit us until Saturday,” said Emma. “We were able to undertake one last charity effort by selling bundles of hangers and we raised £100 for the local Macmillan Cancer group so we were pleased about that.”
Joyce revealed that staff were given no notice of the decision to close Peacocks, having opened up as normal last Thursday.
“We are all just devastated,” said the mum-of-two. “A man from the administrators came in and told us we had to close there and then. He was just doing his job and was nice about it but I just think the way the company treated us about this was not good enough.”
The thought of looking for another job by way of providing for her young children is a scary one, said Joyce, who thanked customers for their support over the years and especially in recent weeks.
“There is just no work out there,” she said. “We are not the first and sadly, I don’t think we are going to be the last. I am prepared to take any job going - but can you tell me where they are?”
Both Emma and Joyce lamented the loss of such bargain shops from the town centre. Their views were similar to many Leader readers who expressed their sympathy with those who are now out of work and voiced concerns over the town centre’s future.
Attracta Savage said, “I’m not surprised. Why on earth would anyone come to Banbridge to shop.There is no variety or competition here and the big shops have not been allowed to bring the change to the town for years.”
Amanda Gilmour said the debate about big shopping centres threatens a town centre we should fight to preserve.
“Yes everyone likes a shopping centre, but if it means losing our town then I’d rather not. Is Tesco really the be all and end all of everything? The Outlet needs other well known brands, much prefer M&S grocery than another Tesco.”
Jenni Rankin agreed, praising the local independents in the town. “Banbridge is becoming a ghost town as people continue to go shopping in other towns with the usual shops and no imagination. “Why does everyone want the same shops in every town? Why do we all have to try to look and do the same as everyone else? That’s what’s killing our town.”
Referring to Peacocks’ low prices, mum Emmalene Magill said, “On a personal note, Peacocks was about the only decent shop in town for kids stuff so that’s one less reason for me to shop in town.”