Century-old Coalisland building supplies yard faces closure
A BUILDING supplies yard with more than 100 years of history in a Co Tyrone town is facing closure.
Stevenson's Yard has operated in Coalisland since the late 19th Century, but there are fears for its future after suppliers were spotted removing stock in recent days.
John Stevenson & Co was incorporated in November 1887 and manufactured spades until the Second World War.
It has operated as a specialist merchant yard and hardware store, supplying timber and various construction materials.
Belfast councillor Jeff Dudgeon, a director of the business for two decades, insisted the company is "financially viable" and will continue in some form.
However, he said the merchant yard side of the business is in difficulty and tough decisions would be made in the coming weeks.
"Suppliers are removing stock that is not going to be sold. It's a fairly standard operation if there's a company in difficulty," he said.
"The company isn't going under but it's going to need a few months to settle.
"There is no question of liquidation or administration, but there's short-term trading difficulties.
"There are no decisions being made on the immediate future, but if looks as if the life of the builder supply merchants isn't going to be very prolonged."
The Ulster Unionist councillor's father was a former director and his grandfather a manager of the business.
He said the firm would have employed around 30 people three decades ago but staff numbers were now around half a dozen.
Mr Dudgeon said other aspects of the business, such as an annual Christmas shop, would continue to operate.
"The company has been a very important part of Coalisland. It has been integral to the town and it will remain so," he said.
"We have known for years that the economic tides were against it but we were just hanging on in there.
"It's the builder suppliers end of things where the problems lie. That's what will have to be decided in the next week or two, and it doesn't look too hopeful."