'A total shame': Sadness in Cork as popular retail stores prepare to close

Mandate vows to negotiate best possible terms for Argos staff
'A total shame': Sadness in Cork as popular retail stores prepare to close

Retailer Argos is to close all its 34 Irish stores. Pic of the Argos Extra store at Mahon Point Retail Park, Co Cork. Pic: Larry Cummins

CATALOGUE retailer Argos is to close all stores and operations in the Republic of Ireland later this year, in a move that has been described locally as a “total shame” and a “sad day” for staff, customers, and the retail sector in Ireland.

In a statement this morning, the company said it “arrived at the decision to leave Ireland following a long period of careful consideration and a thorough review of its business and operations in the country”.

The decision affects 34 stores and 580 employees.

Argos has two outlets in Cork, at Mahon Retail Park and Blackpool Retail Park.

Separately, it has been confirmed that Blackpool Retail Park is also set to lose another major retailer, as Life Style Sports has confirmed its imminent closure at the location.

Speaking to The Echo, manager at the Life Style Sports store in Blackpool, Hazel O’Shea, said that staff were informed about the closure about a week ago.

Approximately six staff currently work in the Blackpool store, all of whom have been offered transfers.

“We’ve all been offered our transfers… so no one is actually out of a job.

“There’s the Patrick Street store and then there’s Mahon and Wilton so there are loads of stores for all the staff to go to,” Ms O’Shea said.

Life Style Sports in Blackpool is expected to close in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, most Argos stores in the Republic will remain open to customers until June 24, with the exception of Kilkenny, Portlaoise, Galway, and the St Stephens Green store in Dublin, which will close slightly earlier due to lease terms.

The company said that Argos operates a bespoke model in the Republic of Ireland that is significantly different to its operation in Britain or the North, and that today’s announcement only relates to Argos stores in the Republic.

“We understand this is difficult news for our customers and colleagues,” said Andy McClelland, Argos Ireland operations manager.

“As with any major change to our business, we have not made this decision lightly and we are doing everything we can to support those impacted.

“On behalf of everyone at Argos, I would like to thank our colleagues, customers, suppliers, and partners for their support to our business.”

At Blackpool Retail Park today there was a sense of sadness among shoppers and local people following news of Argos’ planned withdrawal from the Irish market.

“I think it’s a total shame,” Margot Ray told The Echo.

“I’ll miss it terribly.”

Ms Ray expressed concern over the future of retail in Blackpool, noting that the announcement from Argos comes on the heels of the closure of the Butcher’s Block outlet in Blackpool and the news that Life Style Sports is to close its store in the retail park.

The Life Style Sports outlet at Blackpool Retail Park, Co Cork is to close. Pic Larry Cummins
The Life Style Sports outlet at Blackpool Retail Park, Co Cork is to close. Pic Larry Cummins

“I’m a northsider and I think we’re losing an awful lot of business here,” she said.

This was echoed by Christine Hickey, who lives in the Blackpool area.

“Life Style Sports is going as well here so what are we going to have over here in the next couple of years?”

Meanwhile, Mandate official, Michael Meegan, said that the union will be engaging intensively with the company to get the best possible deal for the workers who are being made redundant.

“Because Argos is shutting down its complete operation in Ireland this amounts to a collective redundancy which requires a 30-day consultation period and we know the company intends to honour that obligation to engage,” he said.

“We will be using this period to negotiate the best possible terms for those who are losing their jobs and we are expecting a constructive response from the company,” Mr Meegan continued.

Labour local area representative for Cork City, Peter Horgan said it marked a “sad day” to hear of the closure of Argos in Cork and around the country.

“I wish the trade union Mandate well in its negotiations and hope that all entitlements due to workers in stores are protected and enhanced,” he added.

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