Long-established Lurgan department store Houstons to close

Director says collapsed Arcadia Group owed his company money, which impacted its profitability

Houstons to close Lurgan store
Houstons director John Houston (centre) pictured back in August 2022 with then-Economy Minister Gordon Lyons and Invest NI's Ethna McNamee when the department store benefitted from a Covid Digital Selling Capability Grant (DSCG). Houstons has confirmed that it is closing its Lurgan store

LONG-established regional department store Houstons will close its outlet in Lurgan later this year, with more than a dozen jobs under threat.

The group was founded in Banbridge 1950 by brothers Kennedy and Robert Houston, and trades from seven stores in Northern Ireland, employing more than 100 staff.

But managing director John Houston confirmed that its branch at High Street in Lurgan, which has been trading since 1983, will shut imminently.

He praised the Lurgan staff “who have been magnificent through thick and thin” and said some may choose to relocate to other nearby Houston stores in Portadown, Newry and Banbridge.

Mr Houston blamed the closure decision on a combination of many economic factors, including losses to his company after the Arcadia Group went into administration.

He said: “Since Brexit was introduced, it has complicated our supply chain and caused numerous increased costs to goods and added huge administration costs.

“A global pandemic certainly didn’t help the high street, and the resulting uptake of both working from home and online shopping continues to reduce footfall in town centres.”

He added: “When Arcadia, which included Dorothy Perkins, went into administration, I knew it was going to be a challenge to replace it and rebuild the store profitability.

“Arcadia owed us and many other similar stores money, which has also impacted our stores’ profitability.

“Add to this the current cost-of-living crisis and unfortunately the overall result is the Lurgan store has become unviable.”

He was unable to say how long the Lurgan store will remain open, but confirmed a massive closing down sale to clear all remaining stock had begun.

Meanwhile in another major blow in Mid-Ulster, car dealership Agnew Group will close its Autostore in Portadown on March 1, with 10 members of staff likely to be impacted.

A spokesperson for the company said: “The Agnew AutoStore used car dealership is the only remaining non-franchise dealership in the group and no longer forms part of the strategic Agnew Group portfolio and growth strategy.

“The business needs to adapt to a market which has seen significant changes over the past number of years and continues to grow in all other parts of the business except the stand-alone used car format.”