Designer clothing store goes into administration
Independent retailers have been warned of difficult times ahead after high-end Belfast clothing store Carter was placed into administration.
Glyn Roberts, chief executive of Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association, said many more independent retailers may face closure before the economy improves.
Carter Clothing, owned by Dave Pennick, a former president of Belfast Chamber of Commerce, has branches on Upper Queen Street in the city centre and the Lisburn Road and sells designer labels.
The Queen Street branch opened in 1984, with the Lisburn Road store established in 2006.
Liz McKeown and Co, an insolvency practitioner, was appointed as administrator last Thursday, while a notice in the Lisburn Road branch at the weekend indicated it was likely to close.
The Queen Street shop remained open and was busy with customers yesterday, but much of the stock had been reduced by up to 80% as part of a sale event.
A statement from the company said: "Like many retailers, Carter Clothing Limited has experienced a difficult trading environment during the last 18-34 months, which has been exacerbated by a further downturn and general tightening of the credit market."
The statement said that the process had been "distressing" for the directors, management and staff.
It said trading would continue as normal while all options - including a possible sale - were considered.
Mr Roberts said Carter had suffered due to the drop in consumer spending, adding: "Unfortunately I believe many other independent retailers are facing closure before this recession is over."
The store has also faced increased competition from Victoria Square, particularly its Cruise designer label store and the range of up-market labels sold at House of Fraser.
John Moore, who succeeded Mr Pennick as president of the Chamber of Commerce, said his predecessor had been "one of the best retailers".
"Dave Pennick has been key to the development of retailing in Belfast city centre over the past three decades - this is a very sad day.
"He is a consummate professional in terms of his work ethic and dedication to promoting Belfast."