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NI retailer gears up for school uniform season

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Paul Cuddy in his shop in Magherafelt

Paul Cuddy in his shop in Magherafelt

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press E

Paul Cuddy in his shop in Magherafelt

An independent retailer in mid-Ulster has said the assistance received from government and lenders during lockdown have safeguarded the future of his 62-year-old family business.

Paul Cuddy is the head of Cuddys, which has stores in Carrickfergus, Magherafelt and Ballymena selling toys, clothes, cookwear and school uniforms.

Now the business is looking forward to a busy school uniform season in its stores, with full social distancing measures in place and staff wearing visors.

But Mr Cuddy said the business would not have survived without the help available ranging from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, 12-month rates relief, the furlough scheme and a loan taken out with Ulster Bank under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

The pandemic struck in March, when the company had already bought in about 70% of its spring-summer stock. Now that stock is being shifted with 50% discounts - compared to the company's usually 30% off.

Mr Cuddy said the stores had been well-supported by customers since the reopening. And he said staff were being brought back in gradually as business builds up again - with a return to pre-pandemic trade levels anticipated by the end of October.

Belfast Telegraph