Faithful customers of Dunnes Stores say they are happy that Dunnes are staying in Portadown - but sad at the demise of the grocery end.
The clothing end, which remains, produces 70 per cent of the revenue, but the grocery end has been struggling for some time.
Janet Creaney has seen it from both sides – as a former staff member and as a present customer. “I was with them for 10 years but left to mind the first of my five grandchildren.”
She added, “I have shopped there ever since, but I saw the grocery problems coming. In the old days, every till was occupied, and with queues of customers. But that’s far from the case now and stock has been reduced. I feel so sorry for the grocery staff, some of whom I worked with and are my friends.”
Elizabeth Gordon has bought her groceries at Dunnes from the first week they came to town 35 years ago - especially the ‘big shop’ every Saturday. “I also called in at least three times a week for bits and pieces, but now the town centre is without a major grocery store.
“I found them best value and had made many friends in the staff. There is talk of a convenience store in the mall and I hope the grocery staff find jobs there. This week will be my last Saturday.”
Cathal McKeever uses Dunnes’ grocery end “two or three times a week” and says it is a sad loss, “but at least the store is saved. There has been a lot of competition from the likes of Tesco and Asda. Portadown isn’t the retail centre it once was – but maybe this will be a wake-up call to attract more shops.”
Robin Thompson took up the theme of seeking more shops. “Towns centres generally are feeling the pinch,” he said. “Lisburn, for example, has suffered too. But they seem to be fighting back and there are a few new shops there which could kick-start business.
“Dunnes grocery end will be sadly missed – but it’s good that clothes and homewear are saved. And especially the cafe - for their scones are the best I’ve ever tasted – coffee and a scone for £1.90 is terrific value in the café section! My wife Myra and I will continue to enjoy them!”