Threat to 80 jobs as Banbridge retailer's stores enter administration
Rates hike and new supermarket blamed for tough trading conditions in Co Down town
One of Banbridge's biggest independent retailers has announced his two stores are in administration putting at risk 80 jobs.
Frank McPolin blamed a rates hike of 30% and a new out-of-town Tesco store for his businesses' struggles.
His main Supervalu store in the town centre has a Post Office and has been described as a major "footfall driver" for the town centre.
Frank said: "With the huge out of town Tesco store opening drawing away trade and a staggering 30% increase in my rates bill, it has been increasingly difficult for my business to be competitive.
“We warned that the Tesco opening would have a detrimental impact on Banbridge town centre and sadly this warning has been proven right.
"The local politicians who supported this out-of-town hypermarket have serious questions to answer.”
The Tesco store at Bridgewater Park on the outskirts of Banbridge opened following a lengthly legal battle with traders in the town mounting an intense campaign to stop the development.
Mr McPolin is a board member of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA).
NIIRTA Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: “This is sad news as Frank is a major employer in the town with a staff of 80.
"His store is a crucial part of Banbridge town centre’s retail offer. This is a difficult time for him and his staff and we hope for a positive outcome for the business.
"Frank’s situation proves beyond doubt of the destructive impact out-of-town superstores have on town centres and independent retailers.
"The new Town Centre First Planning Policy has come too late for retailers like Frank and we hope his situation is a lesson for all 11 councils to learn.
“We also need fundamental and radical reform of business rates and serious questions must be asked as to how the Rates Revaluation can hike Frank’s rates up by 30%."
Michael Donaghy, President of Banbridge Chamber of Commerce added: "Our thoughts are with Frank and his staff at this challenging time.
"This situation could have been avoided if local politicians and Planning Service had listened to our concerns.”
“Despite this difficulty, Banbridge is determined to move forward and provide the very best service to shoppers and visitors. Our town has a bright future”