Decision to close two marts was ‘difficult but inevitable’

THE decision to close Midleton and Mitchelstown marts at the end of last year was difficult but inevitable, according to Cork Mart’s annual report.

Matt Murphy, chairman, said that during last year the board continued to focus on the need for rationalising mart operations in light of a continuing decline in throughput.

Four years ago, Cork Marts unveiled a rationalisation and reorganisation plan for its operations. Since then there had been many significant changes and developments in the livestock business.

Mr Murphy said when the reorganisation plans were announced it was intended that a new mart facility would have been in place at this stage and both Midleton and Mitchelstown would have at least maintained the volume of business that they had at that time.

“Unfortunately, this was not the case and their continuation beyond the end of the year was completely untenable,” he said.

The chairman said the board regret the inconvenience that mart closures will inevitably cause to some shareholders. However, it has a duty of care and responsibility to all its shareholders for the society’s financial wellbeing.

Mr Murphy recalled that Cork Marts received planning permission from Cork County Council last July for a mart facility at Corrin, Fermoy. Two third-party objections were lodged with An Bord Pleanála, appealing the council decision. Cork Marts received notification from An Bord Pleanála on March 28 that they were upholding the objections and withdrawing the permission that had been granted.

“This decision is certainly disappointing and is a setback to our plans to develop a modern livestock mart centre, which would be to the highest international standards.

“However, it will not affect the strategic direction of our business in relation to the rationalisation of our mart operations and diversification into new and more profitable areas,” he said.

Mr Murphy said plans for a major project for the development of the group’s property in Midleton have moved on considerably. It received full planning permission from Midleton Town Council for phase one last September. Since then it had secured Tesco as the anchor store in the retail element of the scheme.

One third-party objection has been lodged with An Bord Pleanála by Blackpool Developments Ltd.

“However, our proposals for development have received widespread support from business and civic leaders in Midleton and we are confident that we will have a satisfactory outcome,” he said. Mr Murphy also revealed that Cork Marts is examining the options open to it in relation to its property in Mitchelstown.

“Careful consideration will be given to choosing the best option for the benefit of the society’s shareholders,” he said.

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