Shoppers and businesses react to plans to sell landmark Eason store to Sports Direct

Shoppers and businesses react to plans to sell landmark Eason store to Sports Direct
The exterior of Eason, Patrick Street, Cork.Pic; Larry Cummins

THE city-centre business community has said the sale of the Eason premises on St Patrick’s Street could be a positive move for the city overall.

Mike Ashley-owned Sports Direct International has bought the premises and could see the discount retail sports store move into the city centre.

Eason is set open in a new location, and it is understood that staff will not be affected.

Lawrence Owens, chief executive of the Cork Business Association, said that while Eason is relocating, the store will still be part of Cork City’s offering, and will have knock-on benefits for the businesses in whatever area it moves into.

“I don’t think there’ll be any less benefit by having Sports Direct, and the remodelled JD Sports. That side of Patrick’s Street will be brilliant when it’s finished,” he said.

St Patrick's Street Cork
St Patrick's Street Cork

Richard Jacob, who operates Idaho cafe on Caroline Street, just off St Patrick’s Street, told The Echo that he was relieved to hear the building was to be taken over and wasn’t just closing.

However, given that Eason made the decision to sell to downsize, he said changing shopping patterns can be damaging to retail premises.

“Eason were originally looking to sell the building and lease it back, but changed their mind. They are downsizing because they need less space,” Mr Jacob said.

“A city doesn’t change for no reason, it changes in response to consumer trends. We shape our cities by our actions.

“If we continue to buy most of our books and fashion online, we will not have shops as we knew them previously. We will have big brands buying stores as ‘interactive experiences’.”

Mr Jacob said that it’s too late to “put the genie back in the bottle”, but believes people need to be aware that changes like this occur because of how money is spent.

“At least the big brands such as Penneys, JD Sports, and Sports Direct are expressing huge confidence in Cork by their investments,” he said. “This is the crucial point.”

Eddie Mullins, managing director of Fitzgerald Menswear on St Patrick Street, told The Echo the change would be “bittersweet”.

“It has to be positive,” he said. “Up that side of the street was kind of neglected. Now you have two major investments.

“It’s a vote of confidence in the city.”

Meanwhile, on the street, shoppers were unimpressed with the proposed sale to Sports Direct.

Ciaran Gobl.
Ciaran Gobl.

Ciaran Gobl, Carrigaline said: "Eason is an Irish company and it is important to keep them around. 

"Sports Direct is a big brand, they are hard to stop coming in. 

"They are taking over. 

"In terms of Patrick's Street, I think the traffic restrictions are a good thing. I drive, but the more reasons you have to not drive the better."

Deborah O'Connell.
Deborah O'Connell.

Deborah O’Connell, Carrigrohane, said: "I think it is terrible. Sports Direct will probably put up a flashy front. 

"Patrick's Street is losing its character. 

"Everything of architectural value has disappeared."

Amy O'Connor.
Amy O'Connor.

Amy O’Connor, Wilton, said: "Not sure I am happy to see Sports Direct moving in. There are already so many sports stores in the city. 

"There is no need for another one. 

"I think that space would be great as a venue space where corporate groups could host events. 

"I think another sports store is just boring and mundane and all the franchises are taking from the character of the street."

Dillon English.
Dillon English.

Dillon English, Victoria Cross, added: "It is not a bad thing to be getting more business into the city centre, but it is indicative of the times, more sports stores and clothing companies. 

"Traditional shops are falling to the wayside. 

"I would probably browse in Sports Direct but I wouldn’t be their most avid customer. I would definitely shop in Eason more."

Kathy Kent
Kathy Kent

Kathy Kent, Farranree, said: "I think Sports Direct moving in is not a good thing, especially not with JD Sports next door. 

"I think it cheapens the landscape. 

"There are enough tracksuits in the city already. 

"We need high-end retailers. I’m happy Eason is moving and not closing but I would have liked something more upmarket going into the space."

Ann Marie Hodnett.
Ann Marie Hodnett.

Ann Marie Hodnett, Cork City: "I’m not really impressed to hear Sports Direct are going in there. 

"There are enough sports shops in the city already. 

"I would love Zara to come to the city. I would be more broke than I am now, but I would love it."

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