‘Difficult days ahead’ as Eason Newtownabbey closure considered
Concerns have been voiced after Eason announced it is considering not reopening shops in Northern Ireland, including its Abbey Centre branch in Newtownabbey.
The book retailer’s seven outlets across the province — employing 144 staff — have been closed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The company said it would “commence a consultation process around proposals not to reopen its seven stores in Northern Ireland”.
A spokesperson for Eason said: “The announcement follows a detailed review of the stores in Northern Ireland in the context of the devastating impact of Covid-19 on current and future trade and the implications of a number of other significant factors on the future prospects and sustainability of the business in Northern Ireland.”
Antrim and Newtownabbey DUP Councillor Paul Hamill said his thoughts were with the staff who were impacted by the announcement.
Speaking to the Newtownabbey Times, Cllr Hamill added: “This is another indication of the economy suffering as a consequence of the lockdown. Hopefully as restrictions continue to be lifted, people can be encouraged to get out and support local shops.
“However, there is no doubt there will be difficult days ahead and further job losses are inevitable.
“There needs to be a real focus on the economy and everything should be done to protect jobs and support those who will now be looking for other work.”
SDLP Cllr Ryan Wilson called on management to provide “generous redundancy packages” for those impacted.
Cllr Wilson said: “The announcement by Eason to close all its stores in Northern Ireland is another devastating blow to the retail sector.
“Their stores are popular with a vast range of customers, both young and old, who delighted in the diverse range of products on offer, a veritable Aladdin’s cave.
“I call on company management to provide these dedicated and hardworking staff generous redundancy packages and the support they deserve to find alternative employment.”
Sinn Fein Cllr Michael Goodman said it was a very worrying time for staff at the Abbey Centre branch.
He added: “Hopefully Eason can find another way to keep things going, without having to close shops. Announcements like this show the economic devastation resulting from the coronavirus pandemic and if the store does close it will be sad to see it go. The staff have always been helpful and provided a service to the community.
“We have to look at how the economy is organised and explore new options for moving forward and rebuilding it after the pandemic. A joint up approach is needed.”
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