The Supervalu store – which originally opened as Wellworth’s in 1963 – had been owned and run by Frank McPolin (50) and employed nearly 80 full- and part-time staff.
The building also houses a separately-run discount store and also the town’s main Post Office.
Independent retail body NIIRTA blamed the decision to allow Tesco to open a £38 million 65,000 sq ft out-of-town superstore at Bridgewater Park in 2014 – combined with a 30 per cent increase in the store’s rates bill – for the fall of Supervalu.
I don’t have the full facts on the financial position of the store but I do know that most businesses would struggle to cope with a 30% increase in rates. Combine that with a massive competitor with bottomless pockets opening up on your doorstep and they did not stand a chance.
In my view business rates should be scrapped. Businesses should only be taxed on their profits, it is the only fair system. Put 2% on the Corporation Tax rate to cover rates and give this to the Assembly and Councils.
Low rates (or no rates) combined with flexible rents would revamp our high streets. It would allow small traders to take a chance on a business without burdening them with a mountain of debt.
People want real shops, not fake shops.