Staff at Dunnes Stores are reeling from a shock announcement that the Main Street premises are to shut this Saturday (September 14).
Approximately 50 employees are set to lose their jobs when the branch, which is an anchor store in the town centre, closes at the weekend.
Mark Dobbin, vice-chairman, of Larne Traders’ Forum, said: “This news has come totally out of the blue. It will be devastating for Main Street where it is the biggest unit.”
Glyn Roberts, chief executive, of Retail NI, said that the staff “deserved an explanation” from the Irish retailer which has traded in the town for more than 35 years.
Dunnes Stores was asked for a comment on the closure but none had been received at time of going to press.
Mr. Roberts has also urged Mid and East Antrim Council, to “take an active interest” in the closure.
He added: “The loss of any retailer always creates a loss of footfall for surrounding traders. Our thoughts are with the staff of Dunnes and their families just a few months before Christmas.”
Cllr. Gregg McKeen, Chair of council’s Borough Growth Committee, said: “I am deeply concerned by reports of the planned closure of Dunnes Stores in Larne.
“Dunnes is an excellent employer within the town and has been a key business within Larne for decades.
“Myself and council offer our full support to the company and its employees, who our thoughts are very much with at this very challenging time.”
Alliance councillor Ald. Gerardine Mulvenna described the loss as “absolutely shocking”.