UP to 70 jobs will be created when two new supermarkets open this summer in Mountmellick, according to owner Emmett McConville.
The SuperValu shopping centre is under construction on the old textile factory site at the Connelly Street and Davitt Road junction and is due to open this summer. SuperValu have invested E5.5million in the shop, which at 20,000sq ft will be marginally smaller than the Portarlington SuperValu.
Meanwhile Costcutters in O'Connell Square will undergo a major revamp to emerge as a smaller Centra shop.
In a bold move, Mr McConville has purchased the unit along with the Costcutters supermarket in O'Connell Square from Joe and Vinnie Byrne, who are moving out of the supermarket business to concentrate on the primary care health sector.
Mr Joe Byrne was happy with the deal, which he said should not impact badly on the town centre due to a downsizing of the square supermarket.
"I feel it's very important that the square will be kept alive, and all the jobs are safe, in fact another 50 to 60 jobs will be created, so it's a nett gain rather than a loss," he said.
Mr McConville said the Costcutter staff have been guaranteed that their jobs are safe. A recruitment drive should get underway around Easter for up to 70 people to work in both shops, the Armagh native told the Leinster Express this week.
"We have done our research on what shoppers require to stay in town to shop. We will put in a store that offers as good if not better range than any other big supermarket. It will be a proper size for the town. I'm delighted this deal has worked out and I'm looking forward to the challenge." said Mr McConville, who previously ran the Portarlington and Monasterevin SuperValu shops. He did not see the recession as a reason to halt the project.
"If you followed the political situation, you'd do nothing. The country won't start ticking if we don't drive forward projects like this," he said.
The Davitt Rd site, which is beside St Joseph's and St Patrick's national schools, will have five retail units and space for 200 cars. Construction of a HSE primary care unit is almost complete, and will open in spring, with a chemist, hairdressers, dry cleaners and coffee shop lined up to open also.
Portarlington estate agent Matt Dunne handled the sale of the shops.