More retail jobs lost in Derry city centre

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The Derry branch of high street clothing store Bon Marche is to close.

The eleven staff of the store in the Richmond Centre are said to be devastated by the impending closure, as they had believed their jobs were safe when Bon Marche was bought out of administration at the start of this week.

However, the ‘Journal’ understands staff received a call a short time later to tell them the store will be closed.

A spokesperson for the new owners of Bon Marche, Sun European Partners, said that 230 shops across the UK would remain open, but between 100 and 160 stores would close.

The spokesperson added that the closures will occur within the next few months.

Signs announcing a closing down sale were put on display earlier this week but it is understood local employees don’t have full details of when the store will cease to trade.

The news about Bon Marche’s closure comes just days after staff at Gamestop turned up to work to be told the Foyleside store would be cease trading immediately.

A spokesperson for the American based Gamestop said they had announced their intentions last year to “exit the UK market.”

She confirmed that the four remaining stores in Northern Ireland, including the one in Derry, have closed and customers can redeem outstanding trade credits and gift cards online.

Sinead McLaughlin, chief executive of the local Chamber of Commerce said they are working closely with retailers in Derry “to protect and expand the retail sector in the city.

“Next month the Chamber is organising and hosting a workshop that will support retailers and statutory bodies to brand the city as a retail destination; that will bring in retail experts to advise on in-store layout, design and retail atmospherics; and will help retailers to grasp the opportunities of online retailing.

“While retailers face tough times, when they work together, with the Chamber and with statutory bodies, we can do much to help retailers survive and then to thrive.

”The Chamber also believes it is absolutely essential that statutory bodies and businesses work together to improve the city’s environment to attract more shoppers and visitors to the city centre.”

Ms McLaughlin added: “Derry has marvellous opportunities ahead. City of Culture has the potential to transform Derry’s fortunes not just for one year, but permanently. We must ensure that we build on this opportunity to protect Derry as the major retailing and tourism destination of the North West.”