Closure of Woodsides marks end of an era in Ballyclare

Yvonne Boyd and Niall McConkey spoke of their sadness of Woodsides closing. INNT 48-046-FP

Yvonne Boyd and Niall McConkey spoke of their sadness of Woodsides closing. INNT 48-046-FP

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SATURDAY afternoon marked the end of an era in Ballyclare as Woodsides closed its doors for the final time.

The department store, set up by Herbie and Elizabeth McConkey in 1972, went into administration in October and finally closed at the weekend with the loss of around 30 full-time and part-time jobs.

It was an emotional day for staff and customers alike as one of the town’s oldest family businesses shut after nearly 40 years serving the local community. In a stark contrast of fortunes, the sad demise of Woodsides came just two days before multi-national supermarket giant Tesco opened its new £35 million outlet at the other end of the borough.

Woodsides owner Niall McConkey, who joined the family business 23 years ago after leaving Antrim Tech, said that he had done everything possible to keep the business running, including joining forces with the SuperValu group in 2009.

However, given the tough economic climate and struggle for independent stores to compete with multi-national retailers and out-of-town shopping centres, he eventually had to do what was best for his staff, suppliers and creditors and call in the administrators.

Read the full story in this week’s Times...