A special Traders, Agents and Landlords meeting organised and chaired by Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce took place in the Europa Hotel this evening to discuss the impact the Primark fire has had on trade and help find workable solutions for helping to get back to normal business in the City.
The event was attended by over 60 business owners and staff from a wide range of sectors and saw key addresses from representatives from Translink, Visit Belfast, Belfast One, RHM Commercial and MKB Law who shared updates on public transport to help improve access to the city, marketing plans to encourage footfall and shoppers back into the city as well as rates and legal advice for those businesses affected by the fire.
The event was also an opportunity for business owners and their staff to communicate the impacts the fire has had on their individual premises. Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce will use this information in lobbying efforts with those in power and in particular in the scheduled meeting with the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Karen Bradley this Wednesday 12th September.
The need for clarity in information regarding timelines for access to Royal Avenue, Donegal Place and Castle Street was top of the agenda. The need for an alternative to the proposed four-month cordon was also voiced by concerned retailers as well as the need for urgency in marketing efforts to drive much needed footfall back into the city.
Advice summary for businesses affected by the Primark fire following this evening’s meeting:
· All businesses affected are encouraged to collate as much information as possible in terms of impact on footfall, trade, disruption to your business, feedback from customers as well as photographs of any damage, and anything else which is having a detrimental effect on trade etc.
· Businesses who cannot access their premises or find that their trade has been compromised should communicate this with the Land and Property Services (LPS) as soon as possible – see the full rates briefing paper which we collated in partnership with RHM Commercial [SEE ATTACHED]
· Businesses should take advice on consequential loss from their insurers and legal advisors
· Business owners are asked to complete the online survey to help us collate specific information on how your individual business has been affected [https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeY2J5RpaVmzi5RUh5KmQ7AzYwiDr7SOPdiCX_8sRg_9YHYJA/viewform?c=0&w=1] which we will be presenting to decision makers in due course
The event was chaired by Rajesh Rana, President of Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce alongside Past Presidents, Paul McMahon, CastleCourt, Gordon McElroy, MKB Law and Norman Maynes. The event was also attended by Primark representatives who are continuing to work with the relevant authorities and partner bodies to ascertain the quickest and best way forward for the city.
Speaking after the event Rajesh Rana, President of Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce said: “Tonight’s meeting was crucial in terms of keeping business owners up to date with the latest information that we have from our partner bodies and for arming us with the information to help influence those in power to start making urgent strides in getting the cordon lifted as soon as possible.
“Business owners from a wide range of sectors voiced their frustration regarding the continued lost trade which is affecting not only businesses within the cordon and immediate area, but right across the city.
“We now look forward to our planned meeting with the Secretary of State, Karen Bradley on Wednesday to allow us to push for further clarity on what can be done urgently to help these businesses. Whilst we are doing everything within our power, we are not the decision makers. There has never been more need for the Northern Ireland Executive to get back to power to help these Belfast businesses in the crucial run up to Christmas.”
Rajesh concluded: “We are a lobbying organisation which represents over 400 businesses in the city spanning all sectors. It is our mission to make our members voices heard and to take-action where we can. We continue to listen to all ideas, collate all feedback and communicate all of the impacts that this fire has had on all businesses in the city. We will continue to work with our partner bodies, stakeholders, civil servants and those businesses affected by the fire to help Belfast get back to business as soon as possible.”