RESIDENTS in Rathdowney are saddened but not completely surprised at the news that the Brand Central shopping outlet is set to close its doors this May.
The centre, which employed six full time and up to 50 part time staff, is now a shell of its former self, with only seven tenants still open for business.
Veronica Phelan, a native of Rathdowney and an employee in Carphone Warehouse in the centre told the Leinster Express that she thought the closure had been on the cards since before Christmas.
“A few shops moved out after Christmas and there are only a few shops left. It wasn’t going to be long, it was just a matter of time until it closed,” she said.
Veronica who had been working in the shop for the past four years said that she feared the centre would be vandalised if left empty. She also wasn’t sure of future job prospects.
“I don’t know yet, Carphone Warehouse have a number of shops so I don’t know. Fingers crossed it will work out”.
The manager of The Works, the popular art and book shop in the centre said that it would be business as usual until the end of April.
“We are happy to stay here and we have two of our busiest weeks coming up for Easter,” he said.
Patrick Behan from Clonburn in Rathdowney another local in the area said that the centre was great when it opened but that it han not provided as much employment as was promised for the town.
“it is a pity to see it go, but the local shops didn’t do very well out of it. The employment in the town is not great, all we had was the meat factory and Avonmore, there’s not too many there now,” he said.
Patrick also said young people are leaving because there is nothing here for them.
“I have nephews working in London on the new stadium. They are doing very well and they won’t come back here,” he said.
Sandra Brennan told the Leinster Express that the centre had the wrong idea.
“It needed more normal shops, it was too out of the way and a handful of shops doesn’t make an outlet. It was a half hearted attempt. The shops that are there are great and it is a shame to see them go. It is a real pity to lose the jobs as well,” he said.
Harry Stanley was optimistic about the future. “It may take a few years but things will come back around”.
Another resident in the town, Mary, told the Leinster Express that the centre lacked what most people needed.
“I’m local here and I will miss it when it is gone. It leaves the town bare but it didn’t cater for all the ages. When it was opened it was run badly and the poor planning turned people off,” he said.
Cllr Brendan Phelan said that closure was a “major loss” for the town.
“It was mostly females working there and there is nothing much in the town only supermarkets. It had been struggling for a while and mortgages had been put on it after the owners had changed making it very hard to sell. It is a big blow, staff made every effort to try and keep it going but the rents were too high,” he said.