Our independent retailers are a vital part of our economy, contributing to our town centres, offering consumers real choice and fantastic customer service.
They make up the majority of small businesses in Northern Ireland and employ tens of thousands of staff.
While NIIRTA has members in every village, town and city in Northern Ireland, Banbridge is the jewel in the crown of our independent retail sector.
Banbridge can boast a thriving combination of shops, cafés, bars and restaurants which contribute to the town’s bustling and friendly atmosphere. Banbridge has a flourishing mix of the old and new where high street names sit side by side with established independent retailers.
The emphasis is on quality and service.
Whether shopping for a special outfit in one of its clothing and footwear stores, or carrying out the weekly shop in one of its specialist food stores, Banbridge is a great day out for all the family.
As well as fabulous shopping, you can explore Solitude Park on the River Bann with its distinctive landscaping, play area and dance zone, or stay a bit longer and enjoy the evening in one of the many friendly pubs and restaurants.
Solitude Park and the River Bann are both located in the heart of Banbridge town centre.
In 2007 the council invested £2m in a major redesign of the town centre, creating a beautiful space for all of the local community to use.
Work included new walks through the park, a riverside viewing deck, the creation of an amphitheatre for outdoor events, an enhanced play park, public art and new public amenities and warden’s office.
I have spent a considerable part of my working week visiting towns around Northern Ireland, but I am always impressed by the high level of customer service and choice that the town has to offer.
Glyn Roberts is chief executive of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association.