Co Antrim embroiders set to close after 32 years in business
A Co Antrim embroidery shop is to close down after more than three decades in business.
Pebbles Embroidery, run by Jean and George Sharples, has traded from North Street in Carrickfergus for 32 years.
The couple blamed high rates and parking charges for crippling smaller businesses.
Yesterday, Finance Minister Mervyn Storey announced the domestic and business regional rate would be lifted in line with inflation at 1.7%, which he said was a "freeze" in real terms.
But Mrs Sharples said: "The rates are too high here and they put in parking that people have to pay for. There's no footfall.
"You used to be able to park in this street, but now it's for loading only, whereas before people would nip into the bakery then maybe the butchers."
It is the second shop in Carrickfergus to announce its closure recently. Increased competition in its price point - the so-called pound shop wars - led discounter Poundstretcher to announce plans to close its High Street store at end of March.
It is one of three shops offering discounted branded goods in Carrickfergus, including Home Bargains and Poundland.
Stephen Morris, assistant manager at the store, said: "The lease is up on the shop and the management decided not to renew and to close it down instead.
"We are one of the smaller stores, alongside Banbridge, so although sales have increased month-on-month, we are still classed as a low-cash store.
"The big Poundstretcher in the Kennedy Centre, in west Belfast, makes double what we do, so it was based more on that."
Minister Storey also yesterday reminded businesses of a 50% rates discount for setting up in empty premises.