Staff at Derry’s Poundstretcher store have now all been redeployed to other stores as the search continues to find temporary shop premises, the company has confirmed.
The 15 workers at the Bishop Street store had been facing an uncertain future in the wake of the blaze which tore through the building last week.
However, Poundstretcher Ltd Company Secretary, Martin Collinson, told the ‘Journa’l: “The 15 staff employed in the store have all been relocated to other stores. Hopefully that will continue.
“We are in the process of looking for short-term premises in Derry that we can operate from. All things being equal we hope to get trading as soon as possible.”
Mr. Collinson said he hoped that this would be a matter of weeks rather than months.
“Ideally we’d like to start trading again tomorrow,” he said, adding that it all depends on finding a suitable site.
“The over-riding principal for us is we want to continue trading in Derry.”
City Centre Initiative manager, Jim Roddy, said staff have been working with Poundstretcher’s area manager to find alternative accommodation.
“They have given us specifications of what they would require, and we have looked at all the data on what’s available in the city centre,” he said. “There are suitably sized options.”
LPC Stationary on Bishop Street, located next door to Poundstretchers, has also been unable to open since the fire, amid concerns over an adjoining wall which it is believed to be in a very bad state as a result of the fire.
Mr Roddy said that a week on from the fire, the continuing partial closure of Bishop Street was having a major impact on businesses in the area.
“There has been quite a large amount of disruption for small traders, in that traffic is not flowing normally, car parking is not happening, access is restricted. There are major, major concerns and a dramatic loss in footfall”, he said.
“Traders are finding it very, very difficult and the position they have been left in needs more attention.”
Mr. Roddy vowed to keep pressing for the situation to be resolved at the earliest opportunity and as soon as the investigations are finished.
A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service yesterday said their investigation to find out caused the fire was still ongoing.
More than 50 fire-fighters worked for a full 24 hours from 1.30am on Thursday right through to 1.30am onFriday last week to bring the blaze under control and prevent it spreading to adjoining properties along the historic terraced row at Bishop Street.