B&Q store set to close

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Local MLA Jonathan Craig spoke of his shock after it was announced the Sprucefield B&Q store is set to close with the possible loss of 80 jobs.

Five B&Q stores across Northern Ireland are also due to close with the possible loss of up to 300 jobs.

Kingfisher, the company that owns B&Q, is undergoing a major restructuring and as a result it is closing 60 stores across the UK.

It had previously been announced that the Londonderry and Belfast Boucher Road branches were to close.

Now it has been confirmed that branches at Sprucefield, Ballymena and Craigavon are also affected.

“I am totally stunned at this news,” said Mr Craig. “This is a dreadful blow not only for the Lisburn community but the Sprucefield complex as well.”

Local politicians have called for meetings with management, following the announcement.

The local store is one of five due to close, including Ballymena, Craigavon, Londonderry’s Buncrana Road and Belfast’s Boucher Road.

In a statement B&Q said, “To respond to the changing needs of customers and how they live and shop, B&Q is changing the shape of its store network across the UK.

“In March 2015, B&Q confirmed plans to reduce its selling space by around 15% across the UK over the next two years.

“Following a review of retail space requirements in Northern Ireland, B&Q has confirmed it proposes to move its business to four store locations in Northern Ireland by January 2017, with the closure of five stores.

“As well as at the four remaining stores, customers in Northern Ireland will be served by B&Q’s online store, diy.com, which offers over 40,000 home improvement products and a choice of delivery to the customer’s home or to their local store, using the new Click & Collect service.

“The decision to reshape the store network has not been taken lightly and B&Q will endeavour to find positions for as many employees who are affected by the change as possible, either at the four remaining B&Q stores or elsewhere in the Kingfisher Group, such as at Screwfix.

“In addition, B&Q is in discussion with other retailers about the future of the store locations and job opportunities.”

Diarmuid Walsh, Divisional Director for Northern Ireland, B&Q, said: “B&Q has served the people of Northern Ireland for 26 years and the decision to reshape our store network in the region has been a hard one to make, however, it forms an important part of our mission to reinvent home improvement for the modern age.

“We remain committed to our customers here and will be investing to offer an enhanced range of home improvement essentials at the four remaining B&Q stores as well as online at diy.com. This now offers over 40,000 home improvement products with the convenience of being delivered to the customer’s home or to their local store, through our Click & Collect service.

“Over the coming months, we will be focused on redeploying as many colleagues impacted by these changes as we can.”

MLA Jonathan Craig said he will be seeking a delegation to meet with officials at B&Q.

“I was saddened and shocked at hearing this news,” he said. “B&Q is a long standing tenant at Sprucefield and my fear is how this closure will affect the community in Lisburn and the Sprucefield complex as a whole. From the news that I am hearing it is not looking good for B&Q in Northern Ireland,

“Whilst B&Q have promised they will do what they can to save jobs but they came here wiped out most of the other DIY stores in the province and now they are going to leave.”

Alderman Allan Ewart, Chairman of the Council’s Development Committee, said: “We hope that the employees of the Sprucefield store will be looked after at this time and we are sorry that the store will be leaving the Sprucefield site.”

Ulster Unionist Councillor Alexander Redpath commented: “This is a big blow for retail in Lisburn. My principle concern is the situation of staff who may lose their jobs. I am glad that B&Q will continue to trade for a number of months and potentially until the end of 2016.

“The B & Q site is in a prime position and I hope that it is snapped up quickly and another major retailer can fill the gap and provide much needed employment in the retail sector.”

MLA Trevor Lunn said, “The Sprucefield store always appeared to be a busy one, so this will cause distress in the greater Lagan Valley area. I will be seeking a meeting with my Ministerial colleague Stephen Farry to see what the Department of Employment and Learning can do about providing support and opportunities to those employees affected.”

Brenda Hale MLA said, “The store has been a stalwart to both the local economy and the local community, creating job stability and much needed infrastructure within the Lagan Valley area during the property boom.”

“Having spoken to a senior representative from the Kingfisher Group, they have assured me that many of the staff could be re-located to their Screw Fix Stores, or could be transferred to any new potential owners. The closure of the store will be a massive loss to the local economy and I hope that redundancies can be kept to a minimum.”