Menarys to acquire five stores from family-owned department chain Houstons

Five Houstons stores in in Banbridge, Enniskillen, Portadown, Lurgan and Downpatrick will be rebranded as Menarys under the deal

John Houston (centre), pictured with Philip and Stephen McCammon of Menarys.
John Houston (centre), pictured with Philip and Stephen McCammon of Menarys.

The family owned retail group Menarys has announced it will acquire five stores from its department chain rival Houstons.

Five Houstons branches in Banbridge, Enniskillen, Portadown, Lurgan and Downpatrick will be rebranded as Menarys as part of the move.

It comes ahead of planned retirement of the company’s managing director John Houston later this year.

It’s understood that Houstons’ Newry store will continue to trade.

The retailer’s seventh outlet in Dundalk closed during 2023.

John Houston said the Menarys deal will safeguard around 80 job. It will also save the Houstons store in Lurgan from closure.

Houstons confirmed in January that the Co Armagh store was set to close.

The Lurgan outlet will be the first of the five to be rebranded as Menarys in early May.

The rebrand will continue throughout the year, concluding in Banbridge during October.

Menarys has also confirmed that the deal will see its Enniskillen store relocate to the Houstons premises at 1-3 High Street, effectively merging the retail outlets in the Co Fermanagh town.

The acquisition marks a significant expansion of the Moygashel-based department chain, taking its store network to 23 branches, including two outlets in the Republic and one in England.

It comes eight years after Menarys entered a voluntary arrangement due to financial pressure.

The retailer also took a significant hit during Covid-19 lockdowns and subsequent collapse of the Arcadia group, which led to the closure of a number of Menarys’ Tempest fashion outlets.

The connection between the Houston family and the McCammon family behind Menarys dates back more than 50 years.

Houstons was founded in 1950 by brothers Robert and Kennedy Houston.

They became long-term friends with Brian McCammon of Menarys during the early 1970s

The friendship has continued into subsequent generations of both families.

Menarys’ managing director, Stephen McCammon said: “There are great similarities in the Houstons and Menarys businesses and as John retires, it made perfect sense for the two businesses to work together to complete this deal.

“We look forward to serving Houstons many loyal customers in these five towns and hope we are able to successfully combine a little of what we believe Menarys are great at, with the existing strong Houstons product offering.”

John Houston added: “The two families have had strong business and family connections for many years.

“Succession and protection of jobs within the local communities has been my key driver - my children are now young adults, pursuing their own career interests outside of retailing and this amalgamation ensures a continued local independent department store presence in five prominent towns in the province and safeguards over 80 jobs.

“I believe Menarys have acquired a fabulous customer focused sales team with a loyal customer base synonymous with the Houston brand, and we wish Stephen and his team every success in this exciting expansion of their business.”