Belfast Telegraph

Tesco closing three stores in Northern Ireland: East Belfast and Ballymena outlets to shut

By John Mulgrew

Tesco is set to shut three stores in Northern Ireland - including two in Belfast.

Stores at Connswater and Cregagh Road in east Belfast will shut, along with Church Street in Ballymena.

The two stores closing in east Belfast include a store on the Cregagh Road and a Tesco Metro in the Connswater Shopping Centre. Both will close on April 4, while Church Street in Ballymena was shut on March 15.

Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis said: "Earlier this month I announced that our performance as a business has fallen significantly short of where we would want it to be and that to protect the future of the business in the UK we would close 43 unprofitable stores.

"It is with great sadness that I have to tell you that our stores in Church Street Ballymena, Connswater and Cregagh Road are included in the 43 we plan to close.

"The decision to close these stores has been exceptionally difficult to take.  I recognise it will affect many hard working colleagues, our customers and the communities in which these stores are situated."

North Antrim MLA Ian Paisley Jr said the Ballymena store will close on March 15 - impacting 16 staff.

"I understand these closures are part of 43 closures being announced across the entire UK as a result of profit share loss in the companies annual returns," he said.

Glyn Roberts, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association, said that he hoped that the Connswater shopping centre would continue to trade despite this severe loss.

“Tesco was the anchor retail store for Connswater and its closure will have a severe impact on the footfall for the shopping centre and its traders," said Mr Roberts.

“In the short term, the loss of 170 jobs is clearly bad news and I hope that alternative employment opportunities can be found for the staff, but longer term, the closure of the Connswater store raises the question of the shopping centre’s long-term future."

The closure news comes after Tesco reversed nearly two decades of continuous expansion in Northern Ireland as it dropped plans for two stores in Carryduff and Armagh.

The company, which has operated in here since 1996, has suffered a drastic reversal of fortunes thanks to declining sales and a £263m accounting mis-statement.

As a result, it is abandoning plans for multi-million investments across the UK with planned stores in Carryduff and Armagh among those mothballed.

It will also close 43 existing stores.

Belfast Telegraph Digital