Book retailer Eason to close its seven stores in Northern Ireland

Irish-owned company said the move follows ‘the devastating impact’ of Covid-19 on business

Eason’s  seven shops in the North — employing 144 staff — have been closed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Eason’s seven shops in the North — employing 144 staff — have been closed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photograph: Dave Meehan

 

Book and stationery retailer Eason has told employees it will not be reopening its stores in Northern Ireland.

Its seven shops in the region — employing 144 staff — have been closed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The company said: “The announcement follows a detailed review of the stores in Northern Ireland in the context of the devastating impact of Covid-19 on current and future trade and the implications of a number of other significant factors on the future prospects and sustainability of the business in Northern Ireland.”

Glyn Roberts, chief executive of Retail NI, said it was sad news.

“Eason & Son was a household name and a hugely respected local business, and its closure is a loss to our retail sector.

“It’s not just the loss of the business — it is the reduced footfall for the surrounding traders located beside its seven stores that we also have to factor in.

“Our retail sector and town centres face a long road back and we need the Executive to bring forward a big, bold recovery plan to help create 21st century high streets and to support and grow our local retail sector.”

In May, the Irish-owned books retailer announced plans to cut 150 jobs and put some other staff on a four-day week in the Republic as it looked to reduce its costs by 30 per cent in response to the financial hit from the coronavirus lockdown.

In a letter then to staff, Eason managing director Liam Hanly said the cost-cutting measures were necessary to ensure the business “remains sustainable in the context of what we believe will be a very different retail landscape in the future”.

Mr Hanly noted that the book market had declined by 20 per cent overall since the lockdown in March, with online sales making up 80 per cent of Eason’s total book revenues compared with the same period of last year. - Additional reporting PA