Well known local businessman, Rowan Black, Managing Director of Greens Foodfare, has been elected as the new President of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA).
Rowan is a passionate supporter of town and city centre retail and has served on the Northern Ireland Committee of the Institute of Directors.
He has also been a governor and trustee of two local schools.
“Greens is a long established family business in Lisburn city centre and I have always been in favour of town centre locations for new retailers wanting to come to Northern Ireland,” explained Rowan,
“We are not afraid of competition and indeed we welcome competition, as long as it is on a level playing field in terms of planning regulations.”
Rowan was one of the main campaigners opposed to the out-of-town development of John Lewis at Sprucefield and he believes this has caused them to be distracted from helping new town centre retailers.
“I would encourage the local council to spend some of the ratepayers money on advertising Lisburn throughout Northern Ireland and to try to attract new visitors to the city centre,” continued Rowan.
“We need our local council to back us and unfortunately they haven’t been.
“The regeneration of Lisburn city centre has been ongoing for two and a half years and this will be the first Christmas that there will be no disruption, I hope this will encourage new visitors and new businesses into the city centre,
“I welcome the investment that has been made by the new owners of Lisburn Square and I wish them every success in bringing nightlife, restaurants and independent retailers to the Square.”
Rowan also paid tribute to his predecessor Paul Stewart, who stood down after fifteen years following the sale of his business J.C Stewart store in Magherafelt.
“I’m delighted to have been elected NIIRTA President and want to on behalf of our 1600 members, pay a special tribute to the hard work and dedication of Paul Stewart,” added Rowan.
Greens Foodfare began life as a butchers shop in 1924 with a staff of just five.
It was taken over by Mr Griffith Black in 1970 and the successful store gradually expanded over the years to employ 100 staff.
Rowan Black took over the management of Greens from his father in 1991 and continued to develop it into the modern supermarket it is today.