Belfast Telegraph

Derry jobless figures top list as JJB axes 15 staff

By Clare Weir

New figures have revealed that one in every 10 young dole claimants in Northern Ireland are in Londonderry — on the same day that 15 more job losses in the city were announced.

The Assembly statistics show that a total of 21,430 people aged 16-25 are claiming unemployment benefits in Northern Ireland.

Foyle tops the list with 2,145 young people on the dole queue, well ahead of West Belfast (1,810) and Upper Bann (1,495), and is almost three times the rate of areas like North Down, South Antrim and East Belfast.

Last week commercial property firm Lisney also reported that almost one in five shops in Derry now lies vacant.

The city has an overall vacancy rate of 18.7%, well above the UK average of 11.4%.

The shutters were pulled down on all Northern Ireland JJB stores on Monday except the Antrim and Lisburn outlets and a Londonderry branch at Strand Road, which employs 28 people.

The remaining three have been immediately rebranded as Sports Direct after the rival chain bought over just 20 of JJB’s 153 UK shops.

The appointment of administrators KPMG means that 2,200 staff at JJB Sports across the UK have been made redundant, including the 15 from the Richmond Centre store.

Around 550 JJB jobs have been secured overall.

The chain follows other retailers like Peacocks, La Senza and Clinton Cards which have disappeared from our cities and towns in recent months.

The news comes against a depressing backdrop of an increasing unemployment rate in Northern Ireland — reaching 8.2% for the three months ending in July — meaning that the jobless level has moved above the UK average.

SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan said the news will come as a great blow to JJB staff and their families.

“The fact that the company is closing one of their Derry stores is purely a response to market conditions and no comment on the aptitude or skills of JJB staff,” he said.

Background

JJB STORES CLOSED:

Belfast Ann Street, Belfast Royal Avenue, Belfast Drumkeen, Ballymena, Bangor, Coleraine, Craigavon, Londonderry Richmond Centre, Newry, and Newtownards

JJB STORES SAVED:

Antrim, Lisburn, and Strand Road, Derry.

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