Belfast Telegraph

Belfast record shop Head faces closure after move to new store falls through

By Rachel Martin

Belfast music store Head is to close in February after a deal to move to new, larger premises collapsed at the last minute.

The chain arrived in Belfast six years ago and has been based at CastleCourt for three years.

Bosses had planned to relocate to a two-storey outlet on Royal Avenue three times bigger than the existing branch.

But without premises the business will be forced to close in February, despite strong sales.

Staff say they are still hopeful something can be agreed before then.

Head had already given notice to landlords at CastleCourt before the move fell through.

The chain previously closed its first Belfast shop after it was unable to negotiate a short-term lease with Victoria Square.

In 2012 the store left Victoria Square after the disagreement over the lease could not be resolved.

Fans launched an online campaign to help save it and the record store reopened on Ann Street a few months later.

The chain is owned by Indulge Retail Ltd and runs outlets in Dublin, Bromley, Cardiff and Leamington Spa.

Belfast manager Ronan McGuiggan said staff were hopeful the store would reopen.

He has worked at the chain since it opened here.

He said having seen it survive similar issues with its lease in 2012, he was confident it will live on in Belfast.

"We've such a loyal following and have so many regulars - our customers have followed us every time we have moved and have been very supportive every time," he said.

"We've had a really good three years at CastleCourt and have built up a strong brand here over that time.

"We've seen strong sales, particularly across vinyl and turntables, so there is definitely demand for what we offer in Belfast."

He said the store sold more than 1,400 turntables last year, and this year was on target to sell even more as the trend back towards vinyl gathered pace.

The store employs nine permanent staff and six seasonal workers, all of whom have been warned they may lose their jobs if a new location is not found.

The store is currently expected to bring down the shutters on February 10.

Writing online to customers, a spokesman for the company said: "A massive thank you for all the kind words about the store and possible location suggestions.

"Your response has been overwhelming and it is great to hear how well thought of the staff and store is.

"We are still looking for a suitable city centre location so we can continue to trade in Belfast.

"It is with great sadness that we are announcing the closure of Head in CastleCourt Shopping Centre.

"We are, however, continuing to look for a new store in Belfast, but unfortunately we have not had time to agree a deal anywhere yet.

"The city centre is almost full, and so far units we have found are too expensive or too small for us.

"We originally opened in October 2010 and have had great support from the music and film lovers in Belfast since then. Thank you.

"I would like to thank the staff in the store for the hard work and great customer service they have given over the years."

Management at the firm previously criticised the leasing system here, saying five-year leases made it difficult for retailers to survive.

The Belfast branch also hosts small live music events for local artists, and was named Ireland's best independent music retailer in 2012.

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