BUSINESSMAN VIEWS SHIPTON DEVELOPMENT AS HUGE MISTAKE
A Fermoy businessman views the proposed Shipton development as a huge mistake and warns that the landscape of the town will change dramatically as a result of it, but not for the better.
Robert Burns, owner of the Physical Sports Shop in Fermoy feels that most of the councillors in the town council, except for one, lack the business sense to make a decision that will have a major impact on Fermoy for a long time.
Mr Burns makes the point that Shipton should not be calling the shots and he refers to what he views as an ‘apparently unconditional support for Shipton’.
“There is no concept of what the nett jobs are going to be. Tell us the nett job increase. If the development materialises the jobs will only be going from here to there. The councillors are naive in thinking that this will generate new retail jobs. Developers are desperate to get some result out of a desperate situation,” he stated.
Mr Burns strongly feels that the location of the development will drive many local shops out of business, if they are not located in the vicinity and due to the unfair competition.
And, it appears, he knows a thing or two about unfair competition. He had to close his other sports shop in Mallow four years ago when his business suffered a 50% drop after the new shopping centre there opened.
“The first week the development opened we dropped 30%, then 50%. Business was brisk before, but once two multiples opened in the development, Lifestyle and Sportsworld, with 15,000sq.ft of space as opposed to my 2,000sq.ft, where is the fair competition in that?
" People say that you have to face up to the competition. In September 2008 we shut the shop in Mallow and regrouped in Fermoy. The development there shut down the shop in Mallow. You just can’t compete with multiples. It’s unfair competition.”
He highlights towns whose businesses were severely affected by big developments.
“Look at the Cork side of Youghal; it’s empty; Look at Mallow; since the shopping centre has opened, shops on the outskirts have closed. The development sucked the trade out of town. The area of Midleton where the old Tesco used to be is now in terminal decline. In Charleville the rates have increased dramatically since the development.
“For the Charleville development to work, everyone had to shop in Charleville, which is not happening. It’s not enough to have Dunnes. Dunnes has 30% of the market. The remaining 70% go elsewhere. The shopping trends have changed. People are now used to seeing brand names. They travel to see brand names.”
So what is the solution to make Fermoy more vibrant for shoppers and retailers alike? Mr Burns suggests that development should start with many of the vacant units in the town centre, the former 4Homes Stores, the ESB site etc.
“That’s what would make Fermoy a better town to shop in,” he concluded.
Friday 27th November 8:50am