STAFF employed at Strabane retail park are fearing for their jobs as the date for Lidl’s takeover of the site quickly approaches.
July is being mooted as the date when Lidl will move to the site and begin demolition of the current retail units which house New Look, Peacocks, Menarys and Argos. With just weeks to go many staff at the four stores are currently in the dark about what their future holds.
The Chronicle understands employees at New Look have already been given notice of their redundancies, while Argos have informed staff they are trying to secure an alternative location for the store.
Calling for clarity on the matter is Independent councillor Raymond Barr who said, “My immediate concern is for the employees of those stores who are faced with the prospect of unemployment, I emailed the head office of all four retailers plus the head office of Lidl, only two took the time to reply, Lidl confirmed there will be two independent units on site, it is not yet known who the tenants of those units will be. Argos have confirmed they are actively trying to find a new location for the Strabane store, while New Look are not relocating, I have no confirmation at this stage of what Menarys and Peacocks are planning to do,” Cllr Barr explained.
“When Lidl first made the announcement of their relocation to the retail park with the creation of ten more jobs I said it would only be a positive move if the existing jobs in the retail park were retained, this is still the case. Our local MLAs and MP have had ample time to fight for the retention of these businesses, but the inevitable consequence is now with us – at a time when we are suffering the worst economic crisis in recent memory staff in these stores are left with the anxiety and stress of wondering where their next mortgage payment is coming from. I call on Invest NI to make a concerted effort to ensure the premises left empty by Lidl are utilised to provide employment for the town, the loss of one business is one too much” he added.
Confirming they are committed to finding a new store in Strabane a spokesperson for Argos told the Chronicle, “Our landlord has been granted planning permission for proposals that impact our Strabane Argos store. We are doing everything we can to secure an alternative location for the store, so that we can continue to serve the area..”
Welcoming this news Assembly election candidate Maolíosa McHugh said, “This news they are actively seeking an alternative location locally is re-assuring and hopefully will soon come to fruition. Hopefully the other retail outlets can now provide similar clarification.”
A spokesperson for Lidl explained, “The overall site will be anchored by a new 2,220 sq. m Lidl concept store. Up to three additional retail units will be developed as part of the scheme, with tenants to be confirmed. As yet, there are no confirmed dates for construction commencement on the site or closure of the existing Lidl store in Bradley Way.”
Both Menarys and Peacocks were contacted by the Chronicle and asked to comment regarding their staff, however they provided no response.