B&Q to close Craigavon store early with loss of around 50 jobs
DIY giant B&Q is shutting its Craigavon store this weekend - resulting in the loss of around 50 jobs - more than six months ahead of schedule, it can be revealed.
The chain confirmed last year that it will shut five stores here, more than half its Northern Ireland network, resulting in the loss of up to 300 jobs.
Three initial stores were already earmarked to close by the end of this financial year, but it's now understood the Craigavon branch - expected to shut in 2017 - will close this Saturday.
A spokeswoman for B&Q confirmed the store would be closing its doors early, while its Sprucefield location is also expected to go by the end of the year.
"We can confirm that staff at B&Q Sprucefield and B&Q Craigavon have been told their stores are set to close and we will endeavour to find alternative positions for as many staff as possible.
"Following these two closures, B&Q will continue to serve customers in Northern Ireland with stores located in Coleraine, Holywood Exchange (outside Belfast), Newtownabbey and Newry."
The three stores which have already shut include the Belfast, Boucher Road outlet, Buncrana Road in Londonderry and Ballymena.
In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph in September, B&Q divisional director Diarmuid Walsh said it was unlikely workers in some stores, such as Londonderry, could be redeployed elsewhere.
The retailer is closing some 60 stores across the UK.
But parent company Kingfisher is growing its Screwfix business throughout Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
Breaking the bad news last year, Mr Walsh said the business would focused on "redeploying as many colleagues impacted by these changes as we can."
The firm said it hoped to find staff jobs at other stores, or elsewhere in the Kingfisher group, such as its expanding Screwfix stores.
Kingfisher, just last month, revealed that bottom-line profits fell by more than a fifth, as it counted the cost of an overhaul but said its "ambitious" plans were on track.
The group posted a 20.5% decline in annual statutory pre-tax profits to £512m as it closed shops and suffered an exchange rate hit.
But with the impact of its restructuring and currency woes stripped out, group-wide underlying profits rose 0.3% higher to a better-than-expected £686m, helped by a robust performance in the UK.
UK retail profits jumped 18% to £326m for the year to the end of January, helped by another impressive sales hike in its trade-focused hardware arm, Screwfix.
Last month Kingfisher said it was halfway through an overhaul to shut 65 B&Q stores and cut 3,000 jobs in the UK and Ireland.