End of road for shoe shop af­ter 23 years

RE­CES­SION, RATES AND ON­LINE SALES SAID TO BLAME FOR CLO­SURE

Wexford People - - NEWS - By DAVID TUCKER

MCKEON’S shoe shop is clos­ing down af­ter 23 years in Wex­ford.

The shop’s owner, Wolfgang Sch­nittger, said seven mem­bers of staff were los­ing their jobs as a re­sult of the clo­sure of the Main Street shop, which he blamed on the re­ces­sion, on­line com­pe­ti­tion and ‘an un­help­ful county coun­cil’.

‘The clo­sure is no re­flec­tion on the staff, they have been bril­liant,’ Mr Sch­nittger told this news­pa­per. ‘The pri­mary rea­son for the clo­sure is the re­ces­sion, from which the shop’s turnover did not pick up enough to cover the costs, cheap on­line com­pe­ti­tion and €10,000 a year in rates.

‘Our staff have been bril­liant and the land­lord cut his rent. Ev­ery­body helped ex­cept Wex­ford County Coun­cil which has been ex­tremely un­help­ful. We tried to rent the first floor which is va­cant and get a rates abate­ment, but they said we couldn’t do that and needed a sec­ond val­u­a­tion.’

Mr Sch­nittger said he went to the val­u­a­tion of­fice in Dublin and was given an on-the-spot val­u­a­tion. How­ever, the coun­cil told him ‘that wasn’t good enough’ and they would have to come down to do a val­u­a­tion.

‘I did my best to find a ten­ant, but at all times the to­tal rates bill of €10,000, €4,000 for the va­cant part, was al­ways a threat to the business.. in fact in­stead of cut­ting our rates, they went up slightly,’ he said.

‘Un­for­tu­nately seven peo­ple are go­ing to lose their jobs.

‘It’s the last thing we would have wanted.’ Asked whether a cut in the rates would have helped the business sur­vive, Mr Sch­nittger said ‘it would have def­i­nitely al­lowed us to con­tinue for a lit­tle longer.

‘Rates are a fun­da­men­tal prob­lem for small in­de­pen­dent busi­nesses, com­pet­ing against on­line re­tail­ers who keep their stock in ware­houses and pay much lower rates, en­dent business

‘We lost 40 per cent of our trade in the rec­s­sion and it just never came back.. we used to sell a lot of good qaual­ity chil­dren’s shows from €40 up­wards and now peo­ple are buy­ing from the ALDIs and LIDLs and Dunnes and you can’t re­ally blame them.. the fu­ture of the high street is the mul­ti­ples,’ he said.

Mr Sch­nittger said he ex­pected McKeon’s to fi­nally close it doors by Christ­mas.

McKeon’s, which used to be owned by well-known Kilkenny busi­ness­man Ge­orge Far­rar, was al­ways a tra­di­tional shoe shop, far re­moved from the dis­count shoe stores which pop up sell­ing no-name brands in towns through­out Ire­land.

When times were good, women vis­it­ing Wex­ford for a week­end away would of­ten buy four or five pairs of ex­pen­sive shoes at a time dur­ing shop­ping trips to McKeon’s.

‘The cus­tomer who would have bought sev­eral pairs of good shoes at a time is now only buy­ing one pair,’ out­go­ing man­ager Jac­inta Har­ti­gan, who has been with McKeon’s since it opened in Wex­ford in 1994, said some time ago in a por­tent of the shape of things to come.

Madeleine Quirke, CEO of Wex­ford Cham­ber, said ‘It is al­ways sad to see any shop on the Main Street clos­ing down for what­ever the rea­son.

‘I would like to say thank you to the staff who have re­ally been part of the fam­ily shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence here in Wex­ford.

‘You will be missed by ev­ery­body,’ she said.

Peo­ple queu­ing out­side McKeon’s fol­low­ing news that it is clos­ing.

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