Larne retail park loses four stores but ‘new lettings at advanced stage’

Four national retailers have shut up shop in Larne town centre since the start of the Covid pandemic.

Monday, 25th January 2021, 7:45 pm

Three have pulled down shutters at Laharna Retail Park where another is holding a closing down sale.

Premises occupied by clothing retailers M&Co, which has had a presence in the town for more than 13 years and New Look, are now vacant.

In August, M&Co said that the Larne branch was to be retained amid the company’s administration process.

Laharna Retail Park.

M&Co’s premises is currently being offered for rent at £37,500 annually.

New Look confirmed that the Larne branch has closed in a post on social media, directing customers to the chain’s stores in Carrickfergus and Newtownabbey.

The latest departure has been described online as “another huge blow for the town”

A closing down sale was in progress at Peacock’s prior to a six-week lockdown which came into operation on Boxing Day.

Carphone Warehouse left Laharna Retail Park last April.

Greggs bakery failed to reopen the Main Street branch after lockdown last year resulting in the loss of ten jobs. The chain has confirmed that the Larne outlet will not be reopening.

Mark Dobbin, vice chairperson, of Larne Traders’ Forum, urged Laharna Retail Park to reconsider the cost of rents.

He said: “Lockdown certainly does not help the town centres. Regarding Laharna Retail Park, the company needs to look at their rents and needs to work with the retailers.”

He suggested that the introduction of parking penalties in the adjacent carpark has “chased people away from the shops”.

“It is sad for the town but there is a need to take a look at the whole site.”

In a response to this newspaper, Alana Coyle, director at property services company CBRE Northern Ireland, said: “New lettings at Laharna Retail Park are at an advanced stage and we expect to be in a position to announce these in the near future.”

Smart Parking, which operates the carpark, said that the “parking management system” was introduced in October 2019 to “counter high levels of parking abuse and to ensure genuine customers can always find a place to park”.

Argos has confirmed that the Larne branch will reopen when Covid restrictions are lifted. Click here

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has formed a Town Centre Recovery Taskforce in a bid to “navigate the ongoing crisis”.

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