Video: Austin’s bail out was never on, claims Hamilton

Trade Minister, Simon Hamilton, has said that an InvestNI-style bail out of Austin’s Department Store was never a runner despite the store’s reported difficulties before going out of business earlier this year.

Mr Hamilton also ruled out government intervention for stricken retail outlets for the immediate term, adding that the shop sector was different from manufacturing, which the Executive is willing to support.

He outlined the laissez-faire approach when asked by Tyrone MLA Declan McAleer what “specific measures he intends to take to create jobs in the retail sector, particularly in the aftermath of the closure of Austin’s in Derry, BHS and a number of other high-profile businesses.”

Mr. Hamilton said financial packages are out of the question due to job displacement concerns.

He said: “Policy has traditionally been, for very good reasons, not to financially support businesses in the retail sector.

“They tend to be, by and large, locally facing and not generally export-focused; and there is concern around issues of ‘displacement,’ as it is called. Investment in a retail business in Omagh could displace jobs or trade from one in Strabane. Whilst that might benefit one business, it would have a knock-on negative effect elsewhere. Those are some of the reasons why we have not and will support retail business in the way that we do other sectors, such as, say, manufacturing.”