Uncertain future for retail chain

The Bon-Marche shop in Market Street, Lurgan. INLM0312-132gc
The Bon-Marche shop in Market Street, Lurgan. INLM0312-132gc

THERE was more bad news for Lurgan workers this week after it was revealed that retail chain Peacocks have gone into receivership.

The company, which also own bonmarche, said it intends to call in the administrators after failing to restructure a £240m debt.

Around 30 jobs are thought to be under threat at the two stores, which have stores at Rushmere Shopping Centre and Market Street.

Nobody at either of the two stores were able to make any comment on whether or not there would be any job losses.

The news comes after the Ulster Bank announced more than 350 job losses in Northern Ireland, some of which could be in Lurgan.

However, both the Ulster Bank and bank workers’ union IBOA refused to confirm this due to ongoing negotiations.

Roger Clifford, president of Craigavon Trades Council, called on all those involved in the Peacocks receivership to avoid any job losses.

“Once again ordinary men and women are casualties of the disastrous economic climate,” he said.

“We call on all those involved to make every effort to avoid closures, and call on the management of the company to engage with their work force in an effort to rescue the situation.”

He continued: “This case highlights the sheer intransigence of many banks.

“This is a profitable and sustainable company. The refusal of these banks, including the bailed-out Royal Bank of Scotland, to renegotiate these debts is unacceptable.

“The Trades Council extends a message of solidarity to the work force at Peacocks and Bon Marche. If we can be of any help to anyone working there, we urge them to get in touch with us.

“The Trades Council can be contacted by e-mail at mel@trademarkbelfast.com.”

Upper Bann MP David Simpson described the news as “a very real blow to many families across Northern Ireland who have family members employed by Peacocks”.

“It would appear that this has less to do with trading results or local conditions and more to do with the level of borrowings that the parent company has.

“Peacocks is a well established and highly respected part of the retail scene in both Portadown and Craigavon.

“This news will come as a blow to the whole local Craigavon economy. While it is the case that this part of a UK wide announcement and is no reflection upon the local staff and management, it is evidence that Northern Ireland is vulnerable to the problems affecting the global economy.”

Mr Simpson added: “That will come as little comfort to Craigavon families facing hardship and uncertainty.”