Belfast Telegraph

Rates cut 'may have come too late' for road's struggling stores

By John Mulgrew

A cut in rates may have "come too late" for some businesses in areas such as Belfast's Lisburn Road, it has been claimed.

Many firms in the area saw their rates bill drop this month, following a rebalancing of rates across Northern Ireland.

But it may have come to late for some businesses - such as the Chocolate Room - which have been dealing with high rents and rates for many years.

"I think the Lisburn Road is a fantastic example of somewhere with high-end independent retailers - it has offered something different to other areas," said Glyn Roberts of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association. "Rates have been a constant problem, and there have been winners and losers.

"And when you have businesses closing, it's also the loss to the surrounding traders."

Paul Maconaghie of the Lisburn Road Business Association said business had been tough for many small independent firms.

"Rates have been an issue for a while. And although something has been done about that, it has come too late for some," he said.

But he said other traders in the area had witnessed an increase in footfall over the last year.

"We have seen an upturn on last year, and there are less empty units and a bit more buoyancy.

"But every business has their own situation - the last number of years have been difficult."

Belfast Telegraph