Belfast family store Bannons set to shut up shop with 11 job losses
One of Belfast's longest running family firms is closing its doors after more than 60 years in business - with the loss of around a dozen jobs before Christmas.
Home furnishing retailer, Bannons, has been a stalwart of the city centre since 1951, and has been located on North Street for decades.
But it is finally closing its doors in the next few weeks, after 64 years in business selling everything from sofas to beds and kitchen appliances.
It's believed Bannons has now sold off its finance end of the business to another firm, and the retail arm is set to cease trading in time for Christmas.
The retailer has suffered depleting sales over the last 15 years, particularly in the last five or six, it's understood.
The business is now being run by the third generation of the Bannon family, which includes managing director, Lawrence Bannon.
It was formerly located on Donegall Street, but has been based at its current North Street site since the 1960s.
Around 11 jobs are set to be lost as a result of the firm's closure.
Yesterday, 'closing down sale' signs adorned the front of the building.
Bannons is a business which survived tough times during the Troubles in Belfast, and Glyn Roberts of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association said it will be a "sad loss".
"Belfast needs to attract more independent retailers, and it's sad we have lost one of the most established ones," he said.
"It's been difficult for independent retailers to exist. This is disappointing news that this firm is closing, and jobs are being lost.
"Belfast already has vacancy rate of 20%, which is twice the national average, so it's important we have a strategy in place.
"This is a company which has come through the Troubles during the darks days in Belfast. It's disappointing it wasn't able to survive in post-Troubles Belfast city centre."
The Bannon business "always looked after its customers" and its loss will be a "major blow" to the city centre, according to Ulster Unionist councillor, Jim Rodgers.
"It's a major blow. I know the family and I'm really sorry to hear that they are closing. The business always had great service, and I know people who worked for them who also spoke very highly.
"It's always sad to see any retailer closing down, especially when it is someone from Belfast.
"It leaves another unoccupied shop in that area of Belfast - when we are trying to improve it."
He added: "Bannons was always very high quality, and looked after its customers if there was ever a problem. It's always very concerning. A third generation business, and it's very sad for the members of the family who are now in charge."
Bannons is the latest family-run furnishings business to close here in the last year, after Fultons shut up shop. Fultons became a household name after it started out in Lurgan over 50 years ago, expanding to Belfast.