Hopes are high that the department store of S D Kells is coming to Portadown – reportedly at the Market Street premises formerly occupied by Poundstretcher.
The ‘Sold’ sign was erected at the premises a fortnight ago, by estate agents Michael Hannath, but nobody is prepared to confirm or deny that Kells are moving in.
The firm’s managing director Ian Kells said that “many issues had to be resolved”, adding he had no further comment.
However, neighbouring retailers in Market Street insisted that Kells were the hot favourites to move in.
It would mean ‘full circle’ for the Fermanagh-headquartered family firm which has traded for three generations in the province.
The firm currently has nine stores – from Belfast to Enniskillen and Omagh to Lurgan.
The second generation of the family – in the person of Roy Kells – trained in Corbett’s of Portadown for five years before returning to the family ‘roots’ in Fermanagh.
Indeed, his mother Mary – who founded the store with her husband Samuel – originally worked in Corbett’s.
Sadly, Corbett’s closed after it was firebombed in the early 1970s, and it was replaced by the block which included the Edinburgh Woollen Mill.
Staff in another of the nine Kells stores confirmed that they had heard “strong rumours” that the firm was expanding to Portadown – “We are awaiting an announcement,” they added.
There is no indication which brand of the Kells range would be sold in Portadown.
They deal in menswear, ladies’ fashion, lingerie, bridal, children’s and schoolwear, as well as bed linen and home wear.
The company – which also deals online – employs 130 across the province, having been founded in 1927.
It is hoped that the move goes ahead, following the news that the Peacock organisation – which recently moved out of Portadown – is returning to occupy the old Woolworth’s store in High Street Mall.
The ‘Portadown Cares’ charity organisation will be moving next door to the former Clinton Cards store.