'A bleak day for traditional retail' - Union says high rents to blame for shops closing

Topshop owner Philip Green

The deputy general secretary of the Mandate trade union, Gerry Light, says that landlords need to face the reality between disproportionate rents and actual sales.

He was speaking following the news that the group that owns the Dorothy Perkins-Evans-Miss Selfridge stores said it was closing six shops, including in Cork, Dublin, and Galway with the loss of between 125-150 jobs in Ireland.

The closures are part of owner Philip Green’s make-or-break plan to restructure his Arcadia fashion empire would see the closure of six stores in the Republic: four in Dublin, one in Cork and one in Galway. The closures will span Arcadia’s retail brands, including Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge, Evans and Wallis.

The flagship Topshop outlet at St Stephen’s Green in Dublin will be among the closures, as will the brand’s shop in the Jervis Shopping Centre in Dublin.

Mr Light told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that a number of factors had led to “a seismic shift in shopping trends” including the rise of online shopping.

This was not a surprise. It is a bleak day for traditional retail.

The decision did not come as a surprise, he said, but it was still a shock for staff and their dependents.

High rents and landlords who “won’t face the reality of rents that are disproportionate to sales” along with unfair taxation in relation to online sales, were also factors, he added.

Mr Light said the union is not certain of the exact number of jobs that will be lost in Ireland, but he estimates it is between 125 and 150. One of the positive aspects of the announcement on Wednesday, he said, is the plan to actively deploy as many staff as possible.

“Unfortunately this is not the first closure within the Arcadia group, but it does mean that there is already in place an agreed voluntary redundancy package, but in this case this will be a compulsory redundancy.”

The full list of Irish stores is as follows:

  • Cork (Dorothy Perkins and Evans)
  • Dublin, St Stephen's Green (Topshop and Miss Selfridge)
  • Dublin, Jervis (Topshop and Topman)
  • Dublin, Henry Street (Evans and Wallis)
  • Dublin, Liffey Valley (Wallis)
  • Galway (Miss Selfridge)

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