The Rathdowney Shopping Outlet in County Laois will close in May, ten years after its launch as the first factory retail outlet in Ireland.
In addition to six direct job losses, it is expected that the closure will also affect approximately 50 local jobs.
The Rathdowney Shopping Outlet was once home to in excess of 30 international and Irish retail tenants offerings discounts off high-street prices. However, operation of the centre has been challenging almost from the date of its launch, with delays to the upgrading of the roads network, along with a surge in competition with the addition of new shopping centres in Kildare, Portlaoise and Kilkenny, negatively affecting footfall and retail business. In addition, the significant downturn in the Irish economy and in the retail trade has seen a reduction of tenants to just seven currently, which has led to the regrettable decision to close the facility.
Tony Donnelly, Managing Director of AWG Property, one of the main shareholders in Rathdowney Shopping Outlet, said: “We have worked extremely hard over the past decade to promote the Rathdowney Shopping Outlet against a backdrop of continued new retail competition in the area and delayed infrastructure improvements. We have continued to invest financially in the centre over that time but regretfully trading conditions in Ireland for retailers have led to the loss of some key tenants leading to this difficult decision.
We are acutely aware of the importance of the Outlet to the local community both as an amenity and as a significant source of employment. We have always appreciated the support of the community and of Laois County Council. The outlet comprises of 41 units totalling 70,000 sqft and 15 acres of zoned general business land. We wish to engage constructively and quickly with any interested parties to identify alternative uses for the facility, to secure and hopefully increase local employment,” Mr Donnelly concluded.
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