| 12°C Belfast

Close

Premium


Mary Kenny

Why it's important to remember the department store's key role in the emancipation of women

Mary Kenny


Close

Classy store: Robinson & Cleaver in Belfast

Classy store: Robinson & Cleaver in Belfast

'By the 2000s, there were myriad shopping malls and, 10 years later, online shopping began making an impact'

'By the 2000s, there were myriad shopping malls and, 10 years later, online shopping began making an impact'

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Classy store: Robinson & Cleaver in Belfast

I hope the Debenhams workers in the Republic obtain every support they need, and a justice of settlement, too - 2,000 people have lost their jobs with the liquidation of the 11 Debenhams stores in Dublin, Cork, Galway and elsewhere around the country. If the EU has a €100bn fund to support businesses during the coronavirus, why shouldn't retail staff also be helped?

It's a sad fact, however, that department stores have been having problems, or failing, in many parts of the globe. The prestigious Neiman Marcus in Dallas, Texas, filed for bankruptcy earlier this month. The famous Macy's in New York is struggling, as is the ultra-practical John Lewis in London. We have long mourned the loss of Clerys in Dublin, and the classy Robinson & Cleaver in Belfast is gone more than 30 years.

In its heyday, the Belfast store, sited on the corner of Donegall Square, was a hub of attraction for cross-border shoppers, and in more hostile eras of partition politics, it softened relations with its reputation for courteous customer manners as well as stunning tableware and linens.