Sam's Yer Man shuts with the loss of 20 jobs leaving customers in dark over fate of orders
Belfast's best known independent retailer has shut its doors after more than 30 years - with the loss of 20 jobs.
S&R Electric Ltd - known locally as Sam's Yer Man - has ceased trading in both east Belfast and Newtownards, putting 20 staff out of work.
Set up by Sam Duff in the 1980s, it was a stalwart in Belfast and beyond, with the company's motto and catchy jingle 'Sam's Yer Man for a Bargain' - a phrase coined by the Belfast Telegraph - well-known throughout Northern Ireland.
The latest family-owned firm to shut up shop - which is now run by his son Sam Duff jnr - means 20 workers are now facing the dole queues.
The company, which sold items such as televisions and white goods, has said it "will be in contact with all customers who have paid deposits and are currently awaiting goods".
One concerned customer took to social media to say: "Your shutters are down and I've been told that you have closed up? Could you clarify please."
A former mighty force on the busy Holywood Road, S&R Electric Ltd drew dozens of bargain hunters at Christmas with queues forming outside for the Boxing Day sales.
When asked about the firm's closure its current director Sam Duff jnr did not wish to comment.
Speculation over the future of the family-owned shop was rife after it pulled down the shutters on Tuesday, and last night it was confirmed the company had ceased trading.
"S&R Electric Ltd ceased trading on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 and, it is with regret, that 20 staff in its retail outlets in Belfast and Newtownards have been made redundant," a statement said.
"The shareholders are currently evaluating their options and will issue a further statement in due course. The company will be in contact with all customers who have paid deposits and are currently awaiting goods."
The business's founder, Sam Duff snr, told the Belfast Telegraph he was confident the firm could reopen in future.
Alliance's Naomi Long, who is fighting to retain her seat as MP for East Belfast, said it was a "disappointing blow" to the economy. "It is deeply regrettable this well-known retailer has decided to shut its doors with the loss of a number of jobs," she said. Glyn Roberts of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association said the closure would have a knock-on effect to other businesses in the surrounding area.
"It's a sad loss for retail, and the area, as well as for the 20 staff who have lost their jobs. It's a very difficult competitive environment for independent retailers, with supermarkets selling more."
DUP East Belfast Westminster candidate Gavin Robinson described S&R as "stalwarts" of the economy "for many years".
S&R Electric Ltd was set up by Sam Duff more than 30 years ago, and it was incorporated as a limited company in 1984. A self-made businessman - who has worked in the trade for some 50 years - Mr Duff turned his electrical business in east Belfast into a huge success. The firm also expanded to Newtownards. His son, Sam Duff jnr, now runs the company.