Two Limavady businessmen have spoken of the “nightmare” they face after their shop in Derry was hit by a major fire in the city centre.
LPC, situated next door to Poundstretcher on Bishop Street, has suffered losses from the blaze, which happened a fortnight ago, running into the tens of thousands of pounds due to smoke, water and heat damage.
Paddy O’Brien and John Wilson of LPC, which employs 11 people, said the fire has caused trading to cease temporarily.
“It’s devastating and, when you look at the damage, the reality of what happened sets in. It’s a big blow, and I feel very sorry for the staff who, whilst they are getting paid, would much prefer to be working and have a timeline on what’s happening, but we can’t give them one because we don’t have one,” said Mr O’Brien, adding: “It’s a big blow to us at this time of the year because this next four to six weeks is our peak trading time. This is our Christmas.”
Mr Wilson said they have no choice but to look for alternative premises in Derry for LPC in the meantime, and said they hoped to view a number of properties in the city in coming days.
“If we get the right building, it could be permanent but our focus, right now, is to get up and running again and get back to some type of normality,” said Mr Wilson.
LPC has been trading in Derry for 30 years.
The businessmen say most of the stock at the back of the Bishop Street premises has been water and smoke damaged, and the stock on the main floor is suffering from smoke damage.
“In our opinion, and the opinion of some of the people who are involved in negotiations with the insurance company, is that we will not be able to trade from that shop until further notice,” said Mr O’Brien.
“It’s 30 years we have given a very high quality service to the people of Derry, and we were renowned for our art materials and supplies,” said Mr O’Brien, who believes none of the stock can be salvaged.
Mr Wilson said: “We’re at a point now where a wall seems to have hit us. It’s difficult, and it’s difficult for us to take steps to plan ahead.”
Mr Wilson said: “Until we get the structural engineer’s report we can’t progress. We are looking at alternative locations and we are being helped by the City Centre Initiative and Jim Roddy who is helping us enormously.”
Mr Wilson added: “We have been very badly hit. It is devastating, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time, especially since there is nothing we could have done about it.
“We are sort of collateral damage in this, so we are suffering.”