Ballymoney Chamber of Commerce President, Winnifred Mellet, has spoken about the closure of Dunnes Stores in the town.
“Our thoughts are with the staff at this uncertain time,” she said. “This is a particularly disappointing blow for the town when we have recently had positive investment news with several new businesses taking up premises in the town centre, some already seeking to recruit staff in anticipation of early opening.”
Dunnes closed last week amidst much confusion and upset, particularly from staff members.
Speaking of growth and investment the President said: “There was substantial investment last year in renewing shop-fronts in the traditional style in Main Street with financial support from the Department of Social Development, the Council and businesses. This project transformed the look of our Main Street, making for a more attractive shopping environment. The funding package also allowed us to increase marketing activity, enhance our website and introduce a town card offering discount to frequent shoppers.
“The next stage was the appearance of new businesses who sensed this confidence and decided to start up in Ballymoney. The town centre is undergoing a series of private sector town restoration projects. Some are underway and others at the planning stage are set to transform the town further with new premises for retail, hospitality and housing.”
“In addition some of our existing traders have enhanced their offerings with new brands and product. These developments, coupled with investment in leisure facilities at Megaw Park and the town’s Riverside Park and the completion of the urban greenway linking the town to Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre, have been a real boost.”
“Dunnes Church Street premises, formerly Hugh McCurdy Hamilton’s independent store, presents an opportunity as does a number of the opportunity sites identified in the town masterplan.
“We also continue to press for action and intervention for the redevelopment of the longstanding derelict site in Linenhall Street which has been a longstanding blight on the town, sitting as it does on a key access route.”
“The Chamber will not rest on its laurels. The Executive Team have recently been developing plans to attract further investment which will be put to the Chamber in the next few weeks. Its our independent shops that makes our town unique and its clear people are looking at Ballymoney and seeing opportunities”, the President concluded.