The Heatons store in Thurles which is to close in the Autumn.
The store has been in the heart of Thurles town for forty five years
There is widespread upset in and around Thurles this week with the very disappointing news that the Heatons store in lower Liberty Square is to close its doors in the Autumn.
The store, which is owned by the Sports Direct company, has been part and parcel of the commercial life of Thurles for four and a half decades, selling drapery, house and home items, a selection of toys, gardening and leisure ware.
Tipperary County Council had granted Heaton’s planning permission to carry out improvement works on its store on Liberty Square back in January 2015 and this was to involve extending the ground floor area of the shop and reconfigure a new second storey over the existing modern extension to the rear of the protected structure.
The plan was to see the retail outlet almost double in size and would also involve works to the protected structure including stabilising the building, replacing the fibre cement slates and inserting a new staircase.
And, in light of this proposal, the latest news of the closure came as a major shock in to the town sparking real concerns for the viability of business in general on Liberty Square.
At the time of going to press, the company was remaining tight lipped about the proposal, but we understand that staff were informed of the decision in the last few days and were left shocked and upset at the announcement - there is no information yet on the numbers being made redundant.
Cllr David Doran (SF), sympathised with the workers and said that many had been working in the store for years.
“They have given long and distinguished service to the town and my thoughts are with them at this difficult time. I would question why this is happening on a continuous basis in our town and I am calling on our TD's and the government to make Thurles a priority.
“Liberty Square has been decimated in recent years and people are avoiding the place because of traffic congestion. We should be looking at ways of incentivising shoppers to come to the Square and also businesses to establish there too. We need to look at parking charges and the commercial rate in my opinion,” Cllr Doran said.
Independent Cllr Jim Ryan described Thurles as an unemployment blackspot. He has called on Tipperary County Council to establish a scheme which would help to return business to the town centre as a matter of priority.
“I welcome that we will be refurbishing the Square, but we need to do more to encourage business to establish here and we need to look at this,” he said.