“Belfast City Centre suffers two hammer blows in two days” says Belfast Chamber

Belfast Chamber has described news that Debenhams is to close and that the Arcadia Group is going into administration as two hammer blows for hundreds of workers and also for Belfast city centre.

Commenting, Belfast Chamber Chief Executive Simon Hamilton said, “This is absolutely devastating news for everyone working in Debenhams and the Arcadia Group.  It has been an incredibly challenging time for the retail sector and job losses on this level were what many of us have feared and warned about, but when it becomes a reality, it is no less shocking and no less distressing for all those impacted.

The closure of Debenhams and the threat to stores like Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and Burton is a huge hammer blow to Belfast city centre. This bad news comes on top of closures at the likes of DW Sports and Eason’s.  Our worst fears about the impact of the restrictions introduced by the Executive to stop the spread of the coronavirus are coming true before our very eyes.

Belfast now needs urgent assistance from our government.  They need to work with the city’s business community, Belfast City Council and other stakeholders to help address the crisis we are currently facing and put in place a properly resourced plan to rebuild Belfast and ensure it fulfils its potential in the future.  Retailers and our hospitality sector who rely on each other for trade and custom also need clarity quickly that they will be receiving a rates bill for the next financial year.  

Our city has faced huge challenges in the past.  This is perhaps one of the biggest ever.  But we at Belfast Chamber believe that with help from the Executive, our city can overcome even this and bounce back stronger.  However, it will require Ministers to step up and support Belfast”.