Card­land shuts five stores in NI amid on­go­ing buyout from man­age­ment

Dozens of jobs at risk as com­pany at­tempts to save other out­lets

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - Front Page - BY JOHN MUL­GREW

CARD­LAND has shut five of its North­ern Ire­land branches ahead of a man­age­ment buyout which could put dozens of fur­ther jobs at risk, the Belfast Tele­graph can re­veal.

The card store, which at one stage had 20 shops here, has shut five lo­ca­tions in the last fort­night.

But its cur­rent man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Al­lan Mackin­non, is now part of a se­nior man­age­ment team which is in the process of a buyout, and is “work­ing with the cur­rent com­pany owner and land­lords to keep the re­main­ing 10 stores in North­ern Ire­land” and one in the Re­pub­lic open.

“This will en­sure that a large num­ber of jobs, between 50 to 60, are saved and also al­lows for pos­si­bly re­lo­cat­ing staff from closed stores where pos­si­ble,” Mr Mackin­non told the Belfast Tele­graph.

“I can con­firm that a num­ber of Card­land stores through­out North­ern Ire­land and Scot­land have un­for­tu­nately closed due to their nat­u­ral lease ex­piry or re­gret­tably due to un­sus­tain­able busi­ness rates and other un­con­trol­lable op­er­a­tional costs af­fect­ing small to medium busi­nesses like our­selves. “Of the seven stores that closed, five had come to the nat­u­ral end of their lease or li­cence and re­gret­tably new terms could not be reached with the land­lords to keep them open any fur­ther. Mr Mackin­non added: “We are work­ing hard to en­sure that there is a fu­ture for Card­land in North­ern Ire­land and beyond, to en­sure we se­cure the jobs of all the staff that we have worked closely with over the years.” The com­pany has shut seven stores. The five North­ern Ire­land shops, which have closed in the last fort­night, in­clude Belfast’s Kennedy Cen­tre, the Fairhill shop­ping cen­tre in Bal­ly­mena, Dun­gan­non and two in New­tow­nards. “On av­er­age we have four to five staff per store,” Mr Mackin­non said. “We are hope­fully look­ing to re­tain at least 12 to 13 stores, to se­cure 60 jobs. That’s the ul­ti­mate goal,” he added. The firm also has four shops in Spain and one in Gi­bral­tar.

It’s un­der­stood the busi­ness’s for­mer own­ers sold the com­pany to an ac­qui­si­tion firm last year.

“On the stores that we are want­ing to main­tain, we are not de­mand­ing any­thing, or rental (re­duc­tion),” Mr Mackin­non ex­plained.

“It is the same struc­ture as pre­vi­ous own­ers.

“A lot of the land­lords have been very re­cep­tive, so once we get the leases through, and ev­ery­thing is checked out, then the le­gal process will start. We are hop­ing ev­ery­thing (can be com­pleted) in the next cou­ple of weeks,” he added.

A num­ber of Card­land stores were closed due to the end of their leases, while oth­ers were loss-mak­ing. Mr Mackin­non is due to take over own­er­ship of the com­pany along­side his wife, Elaine.

Card­land still op­er­ates 10 stores in North­ern Ire­land. These in­clude shops at Bal­ly­mena’s Tower Cen­tre, Col­eraine, Bal­ly­money and Belfast stores such as those in Cas­tle Lane, Park Cen­tre and Castle­court.

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