Troubled retailer Blue Inc closes further stores in the north

Menswear retailer Blue Inc has closed further stores in Northern Ireland in Dungannon and Enniskillen
Gareth McKeown

TROUBLED menswear retailer Blue Inc has closed a further two of its stores in the north.

The Irish News reported on Wednesday that the Lisburn outlet in Bow Street Mall ceased trading, but now it has emerged it was one of at least three to close its doors.

It has been confirmed that outlets in Dungannon and Enniskillen have now shut up shop, while it is believed the store in Ards Shopping Centre has also ceased trading at a combined cost of up to 30 jobs.

Further stores may also have closed across the north as the retailer, which had around 10 stores in Northern Ireland, faces an uncertain future.

It is understood the Dungannon branch in the Oaks Shopping Centre closed yesterday, with staff told of the news late on Tuesday evening.

The Enniskillen store, located in Erneside Shopping Centre, closed last Thursday, the management confirmed yesterday.

Going forward an industry source has suggested that only three Blue Inc outlets may remain open in Northern Ireland long-term, two of which are located in Belfast at CastleCourt and Forestside Shopping Centres.

The closures come as Blue Inc has appointed insolvency practitioner Begbies Traynor to advise on the future of the business.

A spokeswoman for Begbies said: “We can confirm Begbies Traynor has been appointed by the directors of Blue Inc to advise on the company's financial position. While these discussions are in progress, the business continues to trade as usual.”

It has been reported that the retailer, which has been through a number of restructuring processes and previously shed unprofitable stores, is seeking new owners to take control of the business “in the short term”.

Blue Inc could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Retail NI chief executive, Glyn Roberts described the developments as "concerning".

"It is concerning news to see any local retailer contracting and closing stores. I hope the business going forward is able to continue. I think we have lost far too many retailers in the last year to see another one go by the wayside. I hope that the measures the company is taking will save its overall business."

It has been a challenging 2018 for the UK high street, which has already suffered from the closures of the likes of Maplin, Poundworld and Toys R Us.

Fashion retailer New Look has also axed dozens of stores, including its Forestside Shopping Centre outlet, while department store heavyweights, Debenhams and House of Fraser face uncertain futures.

The north has also struggled, with the Primark fire at Bank Buildings in Belfast city centre leading to a sharp decline in retail footfall.

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